Iowa library closes after almost all staff quit amid complaints over LGBT books

Iowa library closes after almost all staff quit amid complaints over LGBT books
‘I can’t buy what doesn’t exist, and there weren’t quality books about Trump’

アン アイオワ town’s library has closed after almost all members of staff quit following a. series of residents’ complaints over LGBT + workers and books.

The Vinton Public Library had the same director for 32 years but since last summer, two permanent directors have come and gone and one interim director has held the position twice, Iowa Starting Line reported.

The library, 位置 40 miles north of Cedar Rapids, first opened in 1904, but closed on 8 July as the Vinton Library Board’s attempts to solve its staffing problems seemingly prompted by locals taking part in national culture wars.

A number of residents grew irate after the library displayed books about high-profile 民主党 and then about the display of LGBT+ books and the presence of LGBT+ staffers.

ザ・ Cedar Rapids Gazette 報告 that the library will reopen on 18 July with limited opening hours and members of the board filling in as volunteers.

Director Janette McMahon resigned in July last year after starting the job in May 2020. 彼女は言った The Gazette that some visitors would make informal complaints about the display of books written by First Lady ジル・バイデン and Vice President カマラハリス.

Ms McMahon said people avoided the official review process to have books possibly removed and would instead check them out only to never return them.

People also complained about there not being enough books about former President ドナルド・トランプ on display in the library.

“The Kamala [ハリス] book was given to the library when she spoke there, and the ‘Joey’ book (ジョーイ: The Story of ジョー・バイデン by Jill Biden) was a purchase request from a library patron,” Ms McMahon told The Gazette. “It was not deliberate.”

“I can’t buy what doesn’t exist, and there weren’t quality books about Trump," 彼女は付け加えた. “It’s a long process to choose materials typically. We pay attention to reviews and publishers and our collection needs as a whole. We don’t just say ‘what looks good on Amazon’.”

Ms McMahon said she was soon the target of personal attacks and that she no longer felt safe in the area.

“When I had had enough, we couldn’t function correctly as a library, so I decided to find a community that better fit me as a librarian and my standards for library ethics,” she told the paper.

Children’s Librarian Colton Neely, an openly gay man, served as interim director until November of last year when Renee Greenlee, who has been awarded for her library work in support of the LGBT+ community, was appointed.

The Vinton Eagle 報告 that Vinton resident Brooke Kruckernberg read a statement at a library board meeting on 9 March claiming that the library had a “liberal agenda” because of Ms Greenlee’s appointment and LGBT+ staff members.

“It appears that there is a slow, quiet agenda moving into our local library culture through the staff hiring decisions and the books that have crept in our children’s section of the library,」声明は言った. “I don’t believe the library is representing our town well with hiring a majority of staff who are openly a part of the LGBTQ community.”

Ms Kruckernberg’s mother, Deb Hesson, added during an April board meeting that “for each book promoting the LGBTQ lifestyle, there should be a book on display that discusses how God created and designed people as either male or female from birth, for life," によると The Vinton Eagle.

Ms Greenlee said that the Vinton Public Library had almost 5,800 items in the children’s area, with three of them having “LGBT” as a subject heading and two with “gay” in the heading. Two items mentioned transgender and none mentioned “binary,” “lesbian,” or “bisexual”. あった 173 items with Christian themes.

“If the library were to do as Ms Kruckenberg asked regarding the one to one display of books about transgender people to God-approved cisgender people, this would result in biased displays,” Ms Greenlee said during the April meeting. “To be equitable, we would also need to display books with multiple religious and non-religious views of gender, including Christian denominations and other religions that are inclusive of transgender people.”

Following further complaints at the May board meeting, Ms Greenlee left her job. Mr Neely was yet again appointed interim director but resigned last week to move to a job in Burlington. His departure meant that the library had no full-time staff, leading to its doors closing.

オン 9 六月, Ms Greenlee wrote on Facebook: “A big part of this ‘controversy’ WAS because of personnel, people who are important to me who were discriminated against because they are LGBTQIA+. It’s not just about the books. はい, the books are EXTREMELY important. EVERYONE should be able to choose for themselves what they read and see themselves reflected in books.”

"だが, I wanted my staff to feel welcome and accepted, just like I wanted every community member to feel. The public library is for EVERYONE, no qualifications, no questions asked. YOU JUST BELONG. This stuff is happening in many, many communities. Vinton is a wonderful community, just like all the others, with people who care about each other. I just ask that you be aware," 彼女は付け加えた.

“Know what’s happening at your public library, who is challenging books, displays, and even staff. It’s real, it’s current, it’s dangerous and scary. 覚えて, your public library supports everyone in the community regardless of race, 民族性, economic status, home situation, 性別, セクシュアリティ, 等. The fact that ALL ARE WELCOME should not be a controversy," 彼女は言いました.

“She’s a gem and shame on us for losing this,” Vinton City Councilwoman Tami Stark said in reference to Ms Greenlee at a 26 May city council meeting, による The Vinton Eagle.

オン 12 7月, ACLU Iowa Executive Director Mark Stringer said in a statement: “It’s disturbing that, across our state, we are seeing vocal groups of people trying to shut down access to certain books and ideas in libraries because they don’t want other people to read them. Our country was founded on the ideal of free and open access to ideas and knowledge. Government institutions, like public schools and public community libraries, have a legal obligation under the First Amendment to not censor materials simply because some community members don’t agree with the viewpoints in those materials. Free societies read freely.”

“We stand by the LGBTQ community in Vinton and the public library that serves them and all Vinton residents. We encourage the library to continue in its mission to provide materials, free from bias on the basis of viewpoint—regarding political parties, 性的指向, or gender identity—or any other issue or topic," 彼が追加した.