By Lyndsie Kiebert-Carey
Four out of five members of the Boundary County Library Board are facing a recall effort from a faction of the community concerned about a material selection policy the board adopted in June. The conflict ramped up when the board announced its July 21 meeting was canceled “in the interest of public safety,” due to “an increase in harassing behavior, derogative accusations and a purported threat of violence.”
“When it has been determined that in-person meetings can resume safely, notices will be posted,” Library Director Kimber Glidden stated on the library’s website.
Trustees Ken Blockhan Jr., Wendy McClintock, Bob Blanford and Lee Colson voted in favor of the new material selection policy on June 16, making them the subject of the recall effort. Trustee Aaron Bohachek voted against it, and is therefore not being recalled.
Donna Capurso, who identifies herself as a “patriot journalist” in her contributions to the far-right blog Redoubt News, is part of the organizing team behind the recall effort. The group has a Facebook page called Boundary County Library Board Recall, with the stated mission to “protect children from explicit materials and grooming.”
While Capurso described the new material selection policy as the board “voting on adding inappropriate sex oriented and deviant behavior books” to the stacks, 9B News reports that, rather than identifying specific materials, the policy states “the Boundary County Library Board of Trustees recognizes that given the increasing emphasis on frankness and realism of materials including those that explore social, sexual and ethical ssues, some members of the community may consider some materials to be controversial and/or offensive,” and that “selection of materials will not be affected by any such potential disapproval.”
The recall is currently in the signature-gathering stage, with organizers hoping to put the decision before voters once enough signatures from the four affected zones are obtained.
In a statement posted to the Boundary County Library website in the time since the meeting cancellation, library personnel thanked community members for a show of solidarity in the form of supportive chalk messages written on the library’s sidewalk, calling it a “grand act of kindness.”
“Though the library staff and trustees have been accused of outrageous allegations, there has never been, nor will there ever be, any pornography in the collection,” the statement continued. “There is not and will never be sexually explicit materials in the Children’s department. Nor will the library participate in any unlawful act such as infringing upon an individual’s right of the freedom to read, freedom to view, or access to information.”
The statement goes on to declare that the library “will not unlawfully discriminate against one group in order to protect the views of another.”
“We will continue to uphold our mission to inform, educate and culturally enrich the entire community in a safe and welcoming environment,” the statement concludes. “We encourage lifelong learning, knowledge through self education and the joy of reading.”
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