Idaho librarian resigns over political climate of ‘extremism’ and ‘militant Christian fundamentalism’

A Idaho library director tendered resignation, citing political atmosphere of ‘extremism’, ‘militant’ Christian fundamentalism» and « intimidation » as causes of his premature departure from the public institution.

“I want to thank the Boundary County Library Board for giving me the opportunity to serve as Director of the Boundary County Library,” Library Director Kimber Glidden wrote. , in an announcement shared on the library’s website. Facebook page.

“My experience and skills have enabled me to help the district move towards a more current and relevant business model and implement updated policy and best practices,” added the director, who joined the institution at the end of last year. “However, nothing in my background could have prepared me for the political atmosphere of extremism, militant Christian fundamentalism, bullying tactics and threatening behavior currently being used in the community.”

Ms Glidden said she plans to step down on September 10 as head of the library in Idaho’s northernmost county.

The Boundary County Library is located in Bonners Ferry, one of the most remote destinations in the western state, especially during the winter months, and serves approximately 12,000 residents.

The library boasts on its website that it was awarded the Best Small Library in America in 2017 by library newspaperthe industry’s premier publication.

Early in the year, however, board members began to face a growing wave of parents and community members who challenged the library’s policies regarding the borrowing of books that they perceived as “pornographic,” reflecting how far the culture war waged by conservatives who believe books with LGBT+ themes are “dangerous” can reach into small-town politics.

In districts and states across the country, parents, guardians and even state-elected politicians are challenging any material that touches on issues of sexual orientation, gender identity or even race, fearing that inclusion such topics only manipulate the minds of children.

And according to the American Library Association (ALA)These types of attempts to ban books from libraries, schools and universities hit a two-decade high last year, with the national group finding 729 examples of such challenges.

The most commonly targeted books were those written “by or about black or LGBTQIA+ people,” the group noted.

For the Boundary County Library, these same themes proved to be what initially prompted a group of parents and residents to form a group called the Boundary County Library Board Recall, whose stated mission “is to protect children from harm. explicit content and grooming”.

Lee Colson, who represents Zone 5 on the library’s board, said that once the group started advocating for the removal of books dealing with LGBT+ themes, it just “ballooned.” snow from there”.

More recently, the group of concerned parents had launched a petition to remove four of the five members of the library’s board of trustees, including Ms Colson, after the institution revised a policy regarding the collection and selection of new materials from library.

“The selection of materials will not be affected by such potential disapproval, and Boundary County Library will not place materials on ‘closed shelves’ or label items to protect the public from their contents,” states the new policy, according to the library’s website. .

The group’s parents, who also took issue with Ms Glidden joining the library at ALA in May, posted on the group website about their growing concerns that the association “has a clear mission statement that doesn’t match the moral fiber of most members of our community,” while sharing a link to an article written by a site alt-right news outlet that describes the national nonprofit as guilty of promoting “grooming” for allowing LGBT+ content on the shelves.

The Independent contacted the group to comment on the petition but did not hear back immediately.

The group has also repeatedly presented a list of books that are frequently touted in right-wing circles as problematic titles as the cause of their fear, but officials pointed out that none of these titles are currently in the curation of the library.

“So what they’re really trying to do is limit our ability to select books to be part of our collection,” Ms Colson told the Idaho Press.

When a person requests a title, the institution’s librarians can request the material from a neighboring institution through an interlibrary loan process. If enough requests for a specific title are made, then the library has the power to make that book a permanent part of its borrowed collection.

“We get books that people want to read,” Ms Colson added.

The outgoing library director said she would have tendered her resignation immediately, except for the fact that the library’s annual budget is due next month and that she would prefer to stay to guide them through the boredom of this. process before leaving. .

“Boundary County is a warning,” Ms Glidden told the Idaho Press, after pointing out once again that none of the titles on the so-called bad books list are held at the institution. “It’s not about books.”

Titles that have recently been criticized by right-wing conservative groups not only include LGBTQ+ material, but also those that deal with race and politics.

Parent in Texas reportedly tried to convince Katy’s school district to remove book about former first lady michelle obama because it promotes “reverse racism” against white people, while a Tennessee The school board recently removed “Maus” – a graphic novel that chronicles the horrific Holocaust experience of the author’s parents – after ruling that the content was inappropriate for children.

And the knee-jerk reaction to ban the books goes higher than local school districts. Governor of Florida Ron DeSantis banned more than 50 math textbooks in April, after a Department of Education concluded the material was too “woke”, noting that it included “critical race theory” and the “unsolicited addition” of social learning concepts -emotional.

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