Report: “After LGBTQ Library Fight, a Michigan Town Tries Something New: Compromise”
From Bridge Michigan:
Something unusual happened Monday evening at the monthly meeting of the Patmos Library Board. After an invitation for public comment, no one stood up to speak.
This small community in Ottawa County gained international attention last year when it twice voted to defund its library in a fight over LGBTQ-themed books. Donors from as far away as Australia, including romance novelist Nora Roberts, rushed to contribute to keep the doors open.
The community has called a truce in the culture wars, by doing something neither side appeared willing to do a year ago:
None of the books that sparked the furor — including the graphic novel “Gender Queer: A Memoir” — have been removed or restricted, but all books are getting labels pasted to their inside covers that give readers a brief overview of the genre and subject matter. The labels will be copied from book descriptions from the Library of Congress or book-selling websites like Amazon. The labels won’t include anything written by the staff or the library board.
Another compromise: last year’s 10-year millage request that included a tax rate increase has been pared back to a three-year millage with no rate increase. If passed, homeowners would pay 0.419 per $1,000 of taxable value. A home with a taxable value of $200,000, for example, would pay $83.80 annually toward support of the library.
Last fall, current Board President Kathy Van Zandbergen displayed a “vote no” sign in her lawn on the outskirts of Jamestown village. On Tuesday, she wrote to Bridge Michigan in an email that the board now has a “common goal and focus.”
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About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.