Montana State Library Commission Votes To Cut Ties With American Library Association Over ‘Marxist Lesbian’ President

Montana is the first state to cut ties.
Shelves full of books on C-level, a quiet floor for studying, in the Milton S. Eisenhower Library on the Homewood campus of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, 2014. Courtesy Eric Chen. (Photo by JHU Sheridan Libraries/Gado/Getty Images).
JHU Sheridan Libraries/Gado/Getty Images

The Montana State Library Commission voted Tuesday to cut all ties with the American Library Association (ALA), saying they cannot associate with a group led by a self-described “Marxist.”

Five commissioners voted in favor of withdrawing from the ALA, while one commissioner, Brian Rossmann, voted “no” and another, Peggy Taylor, abstained.

During a meeting last month, the commission took issue with Emily Drabinski, the new president of the American Library Association, tweeting that she is a “Marxist lesbian” last year.

“l just cannot believe that a Marxist lesbian who believes that collective power is possible to build and can be wielded for a better world is the president-elect of @ALALibrary. I am so excited for what we will do together. Solidarity!” Drabinski tweeted back in April 2022.

“And my mom is so proud. I love you mom,” she added.

The commission wrote to the ALA announcing their “immediate separation.”

“Our oath of office and resulting duty to the Constitution forbids association with an organization led by a Marxist,” the commission wrote in its letter.


Drabinski was elected to lead the ALA in April last year, when she posted the tweet, but she did not take office until this month. On Tuesday, she reacted to the Montana State Library Commission’s decision in a short tweet.

“That is not the Montana — or Montanans — I know,” Drabinski tweeted.

The commission held a public comment period on the ALA issue before the vote to withdraw. Both those who supported staying with the ALA and those who supported severing ties wrote in to express their opinion.

One Montana librarian who said he has been involved in the library system for nearly 25 years urged the commission to leave the ALA, according to documents from the commission.

“I have watched my profession go from honorable to shameful,” the librarian wrote. “Libraries all over the country and within Montana have shifted from serving communities to serving power. I am in full awareness that the reason for this shift aligns with the new ALA president’s expertise in critical pedagogy,” which he called “hatred shielded within compassion.”

He specifically mentioned Drag Queen Story Hour as an example of the ALA’s toxic influence on local libraries.

The proposal to withdraw from the ALA was put forward at last month’s meeting by Commissioner Tom Burnett, who was appointed by Governor Greg Gianforte, a Republican. Burnett also drafted the language of the letter to the ALA.

Commissioner and Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen, a Republican, supported the decision to withdraw but said they could potentially consider joining the ALA again next year.

“I believe we can rebuild. I believe that we can reauthorize later if indeed, after a year’s time, the American Library Association has a different leader or a different path,” Arntzen said at the June 22 meeting.

Libraries have become a flashpoint in the culture debate over the last few years, with conservatives sounding the alarm about inappropriate children’s content, such as sexually explicit books, available in school libraries as well as public libraries.

Last month, hundreds of Catholic parents and others packed into a Warren County, Virginia, Board of Supervisors meeting to protest dozens of children’s books in the Front Royal public library they say contain inappropriate sexual content.

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