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Library board pushing an agenda, again

by Valeri McGarvey
| September 19, 2023 12:00 AM

In a stunning act of irony, the ImagineIf Library Board of Trustees has decided that their staff cannot put up a display during Banned Books Week this year.

According to board chair David Ingram, as quoted in the Daily Inter Lake article of Sept. 12, the issue is too “divisive.”

Never mind that for months this board was encouraged to stand up against censorship vociferously by multiple senior librarians, many who have since left Imagine If because of increased tensions with this very board. The current board includes a member who brought forth a book to be removed from the collection in October 2021, just days after an email was circulated between current board chair Ingram, the other board members at that time, and the county commissioners. This decision to forgo a Banned Books Week celebration was apparently decided outside of public meetings, with Ingram polling the board individually.

This is the opposite of transparency, and the taxpayers of this county deserve better.

The reporter of the Inter Lake article should have asked him what sorts of conversations he has had with library staff and what their input was, and asked in which meetings these topics were discussed and voted on so that the minutes can be referenced. It is disappointing when we see, again, that this board is micromanaging the operations of the library director and staff to suit and push their own agenda.

If board members are making decisions about library programming, and imposing those decisions on the staff, the public has the right to know how, when, and why these decisions are being made.

Once again, this board has shown disrespect for the professional leadership of this library and are pushing their own agenda on this community. Banning books is a tool of fascism, and needs to be protested every time it is encountered. I cannot imagine the thought process of a library board who would not allow our library staff to engage in this very timely and critical issue.

I encourage the public to attend the next library board meeting on Sept. 28, and keep our eyes on this board. While I appreciate their recent efforts to build and pursue adequate library facilities, their efforts to undermine basic library principles continue.

After all the years of turmoil this board has put this community and the library through, they seemed to have learned nothing.

Valeri McGarvey lives in Kalispell.