What residents had to say about a library closing after 2 failed millages over LGBTQ books

OTTAWA COUNTY, MI — Jamestown Township resident Betsy Hansen isn’t ready to give up on the Patmos Library, despite a projected September 2024 closure date.

Hansen was one of about 15 people to speak Monday, Nov. 21 during the first library board meeting since voters rejected a second millage request in the Nov. 8 general election. The first request failed request in August.

Related: After 2 failed millage votes, library beset by LGBTQ controversy to close in 2024 without help

Many voters have said they are troubled by a small amount of LGBTQ offerings available at the library.

Hansen and others made it clear the Nov. 8 millage vote was meant to send a message about the materials. They say previous efforts have been ignored.

“You wouldn’t listen so we had to vote so you would listen,” she said Monday to the board.

Hansen said she simply wants to work cooperatively with the library board to come up with a solution. She implored the library board to have a “town hall” meeting on the issue.

“I’m not your enemy. I love this library,” she said.

Here’s a snapshot of other voices at Monday’s board meeting.

“I’m saddened, frustrated and concerned about the outcome of the Nov. 8 election,” said Tricia Kryda. “The library millage failed through lies, misinformation and hate-filled signs littered throughout the Jamestown community.

She alleged four books led to the millage defeat.

“If you took the time to actually read them, you would see the four books in question are simply stories about young adults trying to figure out who they are and how they fit in the world,” she said.

Another speaker, who did not give her name, talked about the need for change within the library.

“I believe the library should remain open, but I do not think that those who have spoken before me understand that a community’s preferences should be reflected within the library’s books.

“This community has spoken, and if we want to keep the library open we need to honor what they have said. A selection policy should be developed that speaks to this desire by the community,” she said.

Related: Public library defunded over LGBTQ themes going back to voters. See the book challenges filed.

Natalie Frias, a Jamestown Township resident, said the 55 percent of voters who rejected the millage “is not the whole community.”

“Yes, it might be the majority, but this community is growing everyday and more voices and more diversity and more inclusivity — which for some reason is a dirty word now — is going to happen. We deserve to have a library that represents all people, all people in the community, even if they are the minority. It’s the right thing to do,” she said.

Sandra Talsma said she was disappointed with the millage failure.

“Although we don’t agree on everything, there has to be a way to make this work and continue to provide the resources a library brings while upholding the moral values ​​of our community. Attacking each other, providing incorrect information that is misleading and defunding the library to prove a point is not a good example to leave our children,” she said.

Dean Smith, a Jamestown Township resident, said the millage votes were a message to the board.

“I would hope that the board has learned a lesson that when a significant number of taxpayers take the time to attend multiple meetings and express the same concern over the course of almost a year, that you do need to engage with them and try to find some common ground,” he said.

Library Board President Larry Walton said any further discussion about another possible millage attempt or any changes to the way books are selected is not expected to happen until after January 1, when two recently elected board members begin serving.

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