Support The Montrose Library Board - Follow-Up
The February 6, 2023, Library Board meeting was very well attended. Approximately 60 people were in the main meeting room and at least half that more people were standing outside in an adjoining lobby.
The board allowed 30 minutes for public comment, 3 minutes per person. Five people spoke against the LGBTQ programming the library has been promoting and recently begun, particularly the teen version (which was a program requested by the Teen Advisory Board to the library). Those against felt the teen books were pornography (one parent saying the books violated federal and state laws and she has sent the information to the police), and some expressed their belief that the lifestyle is a sin against God. The rest of the speakers were in favor of the programming (many sharing personal stories) and expressed their support for the library board/staff decisions and were against censorship.
As a Montrose resident and a representative of our League I made the following comments:
I am here representing the League of Women Voters of the Uncompahgre Valley, serving Delta, Montrose, and Ouray Counties. Our league has a long history of partnership with the Montrose Regional Library District. On behalf of our League, I am here to thank the library board and library staff for their support and assistance throughout that partnership.
The LWV believes in equal rights and equal opportunities for all persons in the United States regardless of their race, color, gender, religion, national origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, or disability. We support a public education system (and our public library is part of that education system) in which a balanced curriculum of humanities, arts, and sciences leads to life-long learning for all students. The LWV also has a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Policy because we believe it is central to an organization’s current and future success in engaging all individuals, households, communities, and policymakers in creating a more perfect democracy.
I am also here to support the Library Board and the Director’s decisions because all the services you provide to this community are done in a manner that provides equal opportunities to all members of our community.
You are meeting your mission as stated in your current Strategic Plan, to
“Promote lifelong literacy, foster learning, and be a center for people and ideas.”
And you are accomplishing this by doing just as you said you would in your Strategic Plan:
“The Montrose Regional Library District continues to provide a place where everyone is welcome and has access to literary and informational resources. [You] provide parents, caregivers, and children with the tools they need to pursue a lifelong love of reading and learning. [You] connect students of all ages and backgrounds with the support they need to pursue formal and informal education. [You] support community members in achieving their future work and career goals. [You] connect people with each other in a safe forum for the free exchange of thoughts and ideas. [You] provide enriching informational and developmental programs which help patrons better understand each other and the world in which they live.”
Keep doing the good work.
I stayed for the rest of the board meeting after the public comment portion, to learn more. (It might be a good thing to have a LWV representative attend in the future as part of an observer corp.)
The current library policy is to have people with a specific complaint speak to the library director (Paul Paladino). Paul said the bulk of the concerns have been that they think the material being shared or available to minors is obscene or pornographic material. Paul responds that the courts do not interpret obscenity the same way the commenters do, and he cites the Miller Test from SCOTUS: does the material as a whole appeal to prurient interests, does the material as a whole have artistic merit, does the average community person believe the work is obscene or without literary interest.
The people that Paul has talked to don't like his answer. They are looking to the County Commissioners as the final arbiters. One of our county commissioners (Sue Hansen) was at the meeting. The board plans on future discussions with the county commissioners concerning this matter.
If you were unable to attend the board meeting but would like to let the Library Board and the Director know you appreciate their work and the resources they provide to our community, you can contact them via the library website http://www.montroselibrary.org/about-mrld/. Additional information about how the Library Board and the Library operates can also be found on this website (Past Board Meeting Minutes, Board Bylaws, Strategic Plan, Code of Ethics, American Library Association Bill or Rights, DEI Policy, and other library policies.)