A vocal group of activists is demanding that more than 400 books be permanently banned from the library's list. Many of the books aren't even in the library at present.
One sunny morning in picturesque Bonners Ferry, Idaho, a couple of dozen men, women and children gathered under the shade of apple trees to calmly read books and hold a protest. "We're having a read-in in support of the library," Billie Jo Klaniecki, a lively woman in her 70s, told CNN. "We're here being very quiet and very polite."
It all began after a petition to recall four Boundary County Library board members was launched last month over a policy update. Library Director Kimber Glidden was forced to resign under pressure. A movement by a few parents to prohibit books with gendered and queer themes began earlier this year and "has snowballed from there," library board member Lee Colson told Idaho Statesman. A vocal group of activists in the town is asking that more than 400 books be permanently banned from the library's list. Many of the books attacked are about gender or sexuality. The curious point in the case is that the books aren't even in the library at present.
“This isn’t about Trump. This goes beyond any conservatism into almost Nazism, where they’re trying to force their own ideas and religious concepts on everybody else. That’s not America.” https://t.co/FpeMXwjhrK— Tom Mallory 🇺🇦 (@tom_mallory) September 6, 2022
In an exceptionally unique movement, conservatives and liberals have joined forces to protect the library members and save the books from being banned. "They've come into our community with their standards and their agenda and they're determined they're going to force it on us," said Klaniecki. "They carry guns to library board meetings and school board meetings. Carry guns! We don't need that. This country doesn't need that." The demonstrators in the library garden are not reading books among the 400 the group is asking to ban. "We're reading books that we like," added Klaniecki.
Protecting our libraries from our book banning governor and book burning state legislative leadership should be a priority of every Tennessean, regardless of party. The folks in Idaho seem to have figured this out. 📚 https://t.co/GQf4v6oKxt— John Ray Clemmons (@JRClemmons) September 5, 2022
A massive billboard just outside town says, in big, bold characters, "Welcome to Trump Country." In support of the Bonners Ferry school sports teams, "Go Badgers" is written in a smaller font. Darrell Kerby is a conservative, but strongly supports the library trustees and their efforts to defeat the would-be book banners. "This isn't about Trump," he says. "This goes beyond any conservatism into almost Nazism, where they're trying to force their own ideas and religious concepts on everybody else. That's not America."
Lee Colson, who was also reading a book in protest, says he hates to see his "community torn apart like this." Colson is a recently retired forestry worker who has been a volunteer firefighter for nearly 25 years. In 2016, he supported Hillary Rodham Clinton. In 2020, he supported Joe Biden. He's also one of the library trustees up for recall. "The conflict is that I cannot say we will not get them," he said. "Because if we're a library, if the public comes and requests those books, we will get those books. That's what we do." What he's going through has made Colson more politically aware. "The first part of the lesson is to pay attention to your community," he said. "Be involved. Last week I went to a school board meeting, which I've never really gone to before."
Kerby, a former mayor who also served on the city council, feels that this is about more than just books. "Obviously it's not, because they don't exist. They're not here. It's more about, I think, control," Kerby said.
"There are a group of people that want to change this community and there's a group of people that want it to stay the same," said Colson. "I'm sort of a notorious optimist, I think that free choice and freedom win in the end."
There is much in this story that frightens me — and should frighten every American.— Stephanie Townsend (@Steph_Pittsford) September 6, 2022
But I am also encouraged by the photo of people protesting by reading books in the library garden.
Reading is a powerful act of freedom. https://t.co/ag4vz1RReq
What will happen to the library and the books remains uncertain, but it is certainly heartwarming to see all the people from a town unite for a cause, regardless of their red or blue inclination.