By Lyndsie Kiebert-Carey and Zach Hagadone
Boundary County Library Director Kimber Glidden announced her resignation Aug. 16, effective Saturday, Sept. 10, after months of mounting pressure from a recall effort, as well as what the district called ” an increase in harassing behavior, derogatory accusations and an alleged threat”. of violence” in a summons for a canceled meeting in July.
“I would like to thank the Boundary County Library Board for providing me with the opportunity to serve as Director of the Boundary County Library,” Glidden wrote in his resignation statement.
“My experience and skills have allowed me to help the district move to a more current and relevant business model and implement updated policy and best practices.
“However, nothing in my background could have prepared me for the political atmosphere of extremism, militant Christian fundamentalism, bullying tactics and threatening behavior currently being used in the community,” she continued.
A citizens’ group launched a recall effort earlier this year, targeting four board members who voted to adopt a new document selection policy that states, in part, “the board Board of Trustees of Boundary County Library recognizes that given the growing emphasis on candor and realism in materials, including those that explore social, sexual and ethical issues, some members of the community may consider certain materials as controversial and/or offensive,” and that “the selection of materials will not be affected by such potential disapproval. ”
Glidden has also been criticized for having the library district join the American Library Association, which has a similar philosophy regarding the inclusion of diverse viewpoints in library collections. Meanwhile, according to the recall effort’s online presence, the group’s mission is to “protect children from explicit content and grooming.” An email sent to the recall group’s Facebook page seeking comment went unanswered at press time.
Boundary County Library officials counter that such explicit material is not even in circulation – and certainly not available in the children’s section.
“The library does not release a single title released to incite fear and hatred,” according to a statement posted on the home page of the Boundary County Library District website, also shared Aug. 16 on the page. District Facebook.
“This narrative was designed and executed to inspire a group of people to act against their own experience and judgment, or worse, to act in their own best interests,” the district said. “So if the library doesn’t have the materials in question, what is the motivation to pursue an action that will only succeed in creating division and eroding our community?” This is to control what information our community is allowed to access.
Glidden, who has served as a director since 2021, told the Spokesperson-Review that “a constant barrage of the same rhetoric and people not listening to my answers” caused her to resign – that “rhetoric” comprising veiled threats “with language of fire and brimstone of her impending damnation”, according to Spokesperson.
Amy Flint, who is chair of the East Bonner County Library District Board of Trustees, told the Reader in an Aug. 24 email that she does not blame Glidden for quitting.
“No one should have to deal with the level of stress she experienced at the Boundary County Library. Ironically, their library does not even contain any of the documents identified as of concern,” Flint wrote. “Obviously it’s not really on the books.
Instead, she added, “The group demanding a recall seems unwilling to acknowledge or accept that libraries are legally bound to encourage intellectual freedom, not deny it.
“Unfortunately, some ideologically extreme groups attempt to circumvent the ability of libraries to provide a wide assortment of material representing a variety of viewpoints. They don’t seem to understand – or accept – that libraries cannot and should not censor material based on individual user preferences.
Boundary County is not the only place where librarians and library collections are under political pressure. The targeting of libraries over allegedly inappropriate content has expanded statewide in recent months, best exemplified by House Bill 666, which sought to repeal legal protections for librarians, educators and similar personalities for the provision of documents deemed “harmful to minors”. The bill passed the House by a 51-14 vote in March, but was never heard in the Senate.
Opponents of the bill saw it as an effort to criminalize the public availability of media featuring LBGTQ+ characters – a finding that Family Watch International’s support made all the more likely. The group is classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its teachings that “homosexuality is a mental illness” and its support for “tough criminal penalties for homosexuality in the United States and abroad” , according to Idaho Statesman.
The Idaho Library Association weighed in on HB 666 during the 2022 legislative session, arguing that “harmful material” was too vague a descriptor. Asked to comment specifically on the situation in Boundary County following the announcement of Glidden’s resignation, ILA Chair for Intellectual Freedom Erin Kennedy told the Sandpoint Reader that the ILA “fully supports Idaho librarians” and that the association’s board of directors is “deeply appalled that any library employee in our state is being harassed for doing their job.”
“Library materials in all Idaho communities are selected by local librarians in accordance with locally created collection development policies,” Kennedy continued. “ILA supports the rights of communities, parents and individuals to choose the information they access in the library.”
Despite the wider furore over the library materials, Flint wrote that the East Bonner County Library District did not face intimidation or similar pressure to censor its collection. When patrons occasionally express concerns about materials, they are referred to the Collections Development Policy, which states: “The Library respects the individual’s right to access information even though the content may be controversial. , unorthodox or unacceptable to others. Race, nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation and political/social opinions will not be used as criteria for exclusion of content. »
If necessary, customers can receive a material review request form.
“These people are reasonable, respectful and often attend board meetings,” Flint said. “They are not threatening library staff or creating a library environment that does not appear safe. It appears the situation is very different in Boundary County.
Flint emphasized that no matter where a library is located or what some patrons may think or feel about its offerings, the mission of any library is to support intellectual freedom.
“Parents and guardians are definitely responsible for monitoring and approving materials for their children; however, it is not appropriate to expect libraries to deny all users access to materials that certain individuals or groups perceive to be questionable,” she said, later adding:
“As public institutions that use a democratic approach to material selection, libraries should avoid responding to extremist views and continue to provide a wide range of material representing a variety of viewpoints. It is a threat to our freedom – and therefore to our republic – when certain groups or individuals try to make the decisions for all of us.
The Boundary County Library District reaffirms its core mission and does not mince words.
“Now more than ever, it is imperative that we ensure freedom to read, freedom of expression, freedom of information and the right to a fair and balanced education,” officials shared on the website and page. District Facebook. “The library will defend the rights of all. It’s time to take a stand against false narratives. Thank you and spread the word. »