When the American Library Association selected Emily Drabinski as its new president, widespread criticism began to surface almost immediately.
Although she only took over at the helm of the organization last month, she reacted to the nomination shortly after it was announced in April 2022 with a controversial social media post.
“I just can’t 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 [the ALA],” she wrote at the time. “I am so excited for what we will do together. Solidarity! And my mom is SO PROUD. I love you mom.”
Considering the ongoing cultural debate over whether libraries should provide explicit content to young children, the selection of a self-described “Marxist lesbian” drew opposition from a variety of sources nationwide.
Multiple states began proposing — and in some cases approving — measures to pull out of the national organization.
Self-declared 'Marxist' library group chief stunned by backlash as state pulls funding to ALA—American Library Association President Emily Drabinski said she was trying to 'highlight and celebrate' her identityhttps://t.co/TTUZ79FAlA
— Larry Elder (@larryelder) August 8, 2023
The controversy has not dissuaded Drabinski in the least, however, as she recently expressed in an NBC News interview.
“I was excited to highlight and celebrate two aspects of my identity that are really important to me, and are often under a lot of scrutiny,” she said of her “Marxist lesbian” identity.
Noting that she hoped to serve as a role model to other library personnel with similarly divisive political views, Drabinski added: “I didn’t anticipate these kinds of targeted attacks being used as a bludgeon against library workers across the country. I really think that is regrettable, and I wish that wasn’t happening right now.”
Of course, those state leaders who have pushed for divestment from the ALA have generally done so by referencing her particular views — not as a broad statement of disapproval toward library workers in general.
When the Montana State Library Commission voted to exit the national association last month, Commissioner Tamara Hall made it clear that Drabinski is at the crux of the decision.
“We’re pulling out based on the fact that our oath of office for Montana and for the federal government is in direct violation of the Marxist opinion” expressed by the ALA’s new president, she said.