Montana Administrative Register Notice 10-102-2301 No. 24   12/22/2023    
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In the matter of the adoption of NEW RULES I through IV, the amendment of ARM 10.102.1158, 10.102.1160, 10.102.4003, 10.102.9101, 10.102.9102, 10.102.9104, 10.102.9105, and the repeal of ARM 10.102.9103 and 10.102.9106 pertaining to updating rules to comply with recent legislation












TO: All Concerned Persons


            1.  On November 3, 2023, the Montana State Library published MAR Notice No. 10-102-2301 pertaining to the public hearing on the proposed adoption, amendment, and repeal of the above-stated rules at page 1431 of the 2023 Montana Administrative Register, Issue Number 21.


2.  The State Library has adopted NEW RULE I (10.102.4002), NEW RULE II (10.102.7001), NEW RULE III (10.102.7002), and NEW RULE IV (10.102.7003), as proposed.


3. The State Library has amended the above-stated rules as proposed.


4.  The State Library has repealed the above-stated rules as proposed.


           5. The State Library commission has thoroughly reviewed and considered all comments received.  The commission received 120 comments supporting the amendment to ARM 10.102.1160, and 412 comments opposing the rule proposal.  A summary representing the general themes of the comments in opposition and the commission's response follows.


            COMMENT 1: The president-elect of the Montana Library Association spoke in opposition to the amendment and stated that it was "four-to-one" (referencing comments supporting versus comments opposing) against the proposal and that she hoped the commission would "pay attention to your public."  She further commented that "these are your patrons speaking up, including library staff, librarians, directors, trustees statewide for libraries of all sizes, former commissioners, as well as the public.  71% of people opposing the removal of this standard should speak for [themselves].  It is not a close discussion."


            COMMENT 2: A Montana library director provided public comment stating:  "The commission can now do one of two things, stick to its guiding principles, and begin working to repeal all public library standards, since their very existence is apparently a blatant affront to local control.  Or it can repeal just master's standard, and in doing so, affirm what everyone in this meeting probably suspects, that this is nothing more than political retribution for a perceived injustice at one library."


            COMMENT 3: A Bozeman resident provided written comment that the job of a library director requires professional education and skills learned through the Master of Library Science (MLS) degree.  The commenter further questioned why anyone would advocate against education, "especially those that are in roles that serve to advance education."


            COMMENT 4: A Kalispell resident submitted written comment in opposition stating, "[L]ocal Boards of Trustees have the choice to hire a director without those qualifications (MLS degree), and in doing [so] decline the state funding.  Giving trustees discretion in hiring as an argument for eliminating this requirement is spurious."


            COMMENT 5: A Helena resident provided comment opposing the rule change and compared the removal of the MLS degree requirement to the removal of similar professional degrees and professional requirements for doctors, educators, and lawyers.


            COMMENT 6: A resident from Somers opposed the rule change and stated that an MLS degree should be required in order for a library serving 25,000 people or more to receive state funding.


            RESPONSE: The commission disagreed with the above-stated comments and the other comments in opposition and amended ARM 10.102.1160 as proposed, and in doing so, removed the requirement of an MLS degree for libraries serving a population of 25,000 or more.  The commission provided the following response and justification for its decision.  Many residents are misguided in believing that amending ARM 10.102.1160 to remove the MLS degree requirement will result in libraries abandoning quality assurance standards and placing too much power in the hands of trustees.  Specifically, if this standard is eliminated, there are 30 other quality assurance standards in place, that should assuage any fears. It is not going to be a no holds barred, every library does whatever they want kind of scenario if this one standard is abandoned. Pursuant to 22-1-310, MCA, the board of trustees of each library shall appoint and set the compensation of the chief librarian.  The MCA clearly provides a library board of trustees with the power to make the hiring decisions of their library directors.  It is not an opinion; it is Montana law.  Further, 22-3-109, MCA, gives library boards broad power and the responsibility for making decisions like this.



/s/ Jennie Stapp                                          /s/ Robyn Scribner                         

Jennie Stapp                                               Robyn Scribner

Rule Reviewer                                             Commission Chair

                                                                     Montana State Library


Certified to the Secretary of State December 12, 2023.



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