Roberts Helps Save a Library

Author Nora Roberts, 71, who also writes as J.D. Robb, contributed $50,000 to a fundraiser to keep the Patmos Library in Jamestown Township MI open. The library lost its taxpayer funding in August 2020 when its staff refused to pull LGBTQ-related titles from the shelves. Roberts’s donation was part of a total of $245,000 raised in crowdfunding efforts to save the library, with over 4,000 indi­vidual donors. Roberts said in a comment on the fundraising page, “50k is the limit GoFundMe al­lows for donations. If you’re short of your goal, please contact me. I’ll make up the rest.” The library, which serves about 10,000 patrons, should now be able to pay for utilities and staff through 2024. Larry Walton of the Pat­mos Library Board said, ‘‘We are extremely grateful for Nora Rob­erts’ generous donation, and to the thousands of others who donated.’’

The trouble began when an Au­gust vote on funding the town li­brary with property taxes failed, 37% to 62%. That meant a $245,000 shortfall in the library’s expenses, and the library seemed doomed to close. The campaign to vote no was organized by members of the community who ob­jected to books with LGBTQ themes in the library, including Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe, also the subject of a failed lawsuit again a Barnes & Noble in Virginia Beach VA, reported on elsewhere in this issue. The library refused to pull the titles after complaints (though they moved Gender Queer off the shelves and made it avail­able by request only). The demands to ban books led library director Amber McLain to resign af­ter being harassed and accused of indoctrinating children; the interim director Matthew Lawrence resigned later, citing the same issues.

A yard sign near the library alleged that li­brarians were “grooming” children. One of the organizers of the “vote no” campaign, Amanda Ensing, reportedly said banning the books was “not a political issue, it’s a Biblical issue.”

In a statement to Bridge Michigan, Roberts said,

Libraries are treasures, opening the door to books and stories for all. Librarians, to me, are the guardians of those stories. I find the idea of librarians – who offer community services beyond reading – facing threats and attacks, a community library facing defunding both appalling and sad. It’s an honor for me to stand up for the Patmos Library and its staff.

The library board will seek taxpayer fund­ing again in November. For more, see the story at Bridge Michigan.

This report and more like it in the October 2022 issue of Locus.

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