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“Why did we close last week? Well, I’ll tell you,” said the unnamed. “We have a breaking point. We have been threatened, we have been cursed.”
She added, “I come to work every day, and I work twice as many hours because we can’t hire anybody because of the choices that you made. […] I can’t bring my grandchildren to this town. They know I’m a librarian.”
She described the yard signs that call her a “pedophile” because she works in the library. She told the board that it’s been said she’s “sexualized” children and “groomed” them. She said she’s a grandmother and a mother, and since working at the library, she’s been “cursed” at and “threatened” on the phone.
“I’m tired. And I’m tired of all of you. I moved to this town two and half years ago, and I regret it every day for the last year. […] I couldn’t believe it could be this way. I wasn’t raised this way. I believe in God. I’m Catholic. I’m Christian. I’m everything you are, but I was taught to love your neighbor as you love yourself, no matter what they’re like. That God loves all of us. That’s not what I hear every day. Not from you. Not from the people who come in here anymore. […] Please understand, we broke. We are human. It was one threat too many. One accusation too many, and all we do is come in here to serve you day after day,” the Patmos librarian said.
The library is set to close its doors permanently in the fall of 2024 after voters rejected a millage that would provide for 85% of its budget, around $200,000.
According to The Mary Sue, the complaint that led to the vote to defund the library began in August. That’s when protests over a young adult graphic novel series, Heartstopper by Alise Oseman, and Maia Kobabe’s graphic novel memoir, Gender Queer, broke out. And even after those titles were relocated to the adult section, the conservative groups protesting the library refused to relent.
Then the library’s director, Amber McLain, came out as LGBTQ. She soon resigned, along with several other librarians, after hate speech in the town became too intense and she and others were accused of pedophilia.
A GoFundMe was launched by author Nora Roberts and others, The Mary Sue reports, and it has raised enough money to keep the library afloat until the fall of 2023.
Like a tidal wave, book banning is engulfing this country’s libraries and schools.
In December 2021, Oklahoma Republican state Sen. Rob Standridge championed SB 1142, claiming it addresses the “indoctrination in Oklahoma schools.” The bill would ban books from school libraries that focus on "the study of sex, sexual lifestyles, or sexual activity." In March, the bill passed through the Senate Education Committee 8-4, with all three Democrats voting against it, The Oklahoman reported.
Just like their Puritan forebears, who are credited with the first book ban in the U.S. in 1637, Republicans in Texas have jumped into the business of book banning and censorship with both feet.
Last year, a San Antonio-area school district recently proactively pulled around 400 books from its shelves in response to a letter from GOP lawmaker Rep. Matt Krause, demanding schools statewide provide information on 850 books on his list for review.
According to the American Library Association (ALA), the calls for book-banning have been unparalleled of late. Parents across the nation have set their targets on books they allege contain “sexually explicit” content from authors such as Toni Morrison and Alison Bechdel.
“It’s a volume of challenges I’ve never seen in my time at the ALA – the last 20 years. We’ve never had a time when we’ve gotten four or five reports a day for days on end, sometimes as many as eight in a day,” ALA Director Deborah Caldwell-Stone tells The Guardian. “Social media is amplifying local challenges, and they’re going viral, but we’ve also been observing a number of organizations activating local members to go to school board meetings and challenge books. We’re seeing what appears to be a campaign to remove books, particularly books dealing with LGBTQIA themes and books dealing with racism.”
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