Ask a librarian: My library is requiring proof of citizenship to get a library card. How do I fight back?

Question from an author who recently learned that her library is requiring proof of citizenship for patrons to get library cards. She wanted to know what she could do about that.

I’m sorry the library where you’re from is doing this. We’ve been seeing a lot of boldness recently in terms of how people are treating people with any sort of issue in their citizenship or country-of-origin status. It’s undemocratic and lousy. Everyone should be allowed to use the public libraries and everyone should be welcome. I’ve been personally working with my Senator (Leahy) to try to get the Bill of Rights as it appears on WhiteHouse.gov to be accurate and show that the rights in the bill of rights are for EVERYONE in the country and not just citizens.

So as you write your letter it might be worth a few things

1. Consider writing to the library board to let them know this. They may be on board with what the library is doing but they also may not be and can change library policy.
2. Consider speaking with your state library association. I looked at your website and it looks like you are from Illinois? Apologies if that is not correct. If that is correct you could contact the Illinois Library Association.

Website: https://www.ila.org/
Advocacy page: https://www.ila.org/advocacy
Twitter: https://twitter.com/IllLibraryAssoc

Elizabeth Marszalik is the chair of the ILA Cultural and Racial Diversity Committee (CARD) and a Polish American librarian. I can’t find her email offhand but she’s reachable at her library and could probably let you know what the state rules are concerning citizenship status.
http://oppl.org/meet-elizabeth

Illinois is also home to the American Library Association (in Chicago). They have a lot of resources on the subject of the rights of immigrant (and undocumented) Americans but it can be a little daunting to dig through here.

http://www.ala.org/advocacy/advocacy/diversity/libraries-respond-immigrants-refugees-and-asylum-seekers

Your best bet for people to speak to within ALA might be the Ethnic & Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table

website: http://www.ala.org/emiert/
twitter: https://twitter.com/ALA_EMIERT

These are all librarians from all over the country who work on this project under the ALA banner, committee members. They have a staff liaison at ALA proper who works for the Office for Diversity, Literacy, and Outreach Services

Phone: 800-545-5433 x4294
Email: diversity@ala.org

If I am wrong and this is NOT about Illinois, please do let me know and I can find you some local resources. You can check out some of the stuff here for more national-level stuff, not quite the same populations but not unrelated. I think it’s important to push back on this sort of thing where we see it. Libraries are for everyone and no one should be made to feel unwelcome. If I can help more let me know.

4 comments for “Ask a librarian: My library is requiring proof of citizenship to get a library card. How do I fight back?

  1. dt
    11May17 at 2:11

    I’d suggest someone at RAILS if she’s in Northern Illinois. I don’t know if they normally talk directly to residents though.

  2. 13Jun17 at 2:18

    Remind your librarian that books are for use.

  3. 15Jun17 at 6:34

    nice information.

Comments are closed.