Alright Twitterverse, start your engines and get ready for today’s @imagineiflib board meeting to discuss the challenges for Lawn Boy and Gender Queer.

Here’s the background:…

@imagineiflib The meeting room at the library is past capacity (48) and people are overflowign upstairs where the meting will be streamed. Public comment is about to start, I think about 10ish people are signed up to speak.
@imagineiflib Board member Connie Leistiko addresed a few issues of misinformation ahead of public comment, namely that the book challenges were brought by citizens, not board members, and that they are adult books and have been shelved as such. #mtnews s
@imagineiflib First comment started with “I would like to voice my objection to the number of quilting books we are currently spending money on. It’s tearing the fabric of society.”
I love a concerned citizen with a sense of humor.
Matt Beckstrom, Montana Library Association intellectual freedom committee chair quoted the collections policy to the board, and says “after this meeting there will be more questions and discussions. Every library and librarian in the state are here to help you, please ask us.
Carmen Cuthbertson, the main complainant, talked about the challenge being a prompt for discussion. Specifically she wants a conversation about the specific books she complained about, not about broad topics or book banning.
“shutting down discussion is anti democratic.”
Cuthbertson added that she only wants to discuss the books with people who have read them however — probably a minority in this room given there’s only one copy of each at the library and it’s been checked out nearly continuously for months.
Constance Neumann is quoting the dept of justice defintion of obscenity & claims Gender Queer violates that.
‘How much do you have in your legal defense fund to defend the library against criminal prosecution under the law?”
read her letter to the editor
A citizen is quoting passages from the book asking board members to think if they’re obscene, including sections about blowjobs, dildos & strains.

Out of curiosity, does anyone have a copy of 50 Shades of Grey they can quote? Feels like there could be similar passages there
the quoting citizen, Jonathan Bowden also said “I don’t think the crowd here is representative of our community as a whole, I think most people are stuck working today.”
Ope, that last tweet was supposed to say “blowjobs, dildos and strapons."
Julie Kreiman mother of 3 and HS teacher “my heart absolutely breaks for our transgender youth who have been caught in the middle of a culture war in our society,” and asks the books be kept in the collection
Krieman quoted Trustee Dave Ingram’s online profile "the library should provide a broad spectrum of materials and information formats to satisfy a variety of patrons needs.”
The current speaker is reminding the board that *current* collections policy is what must be followed. Several trustees have already made it clear they intend to rewrite the collections policy following the book challenges.
“We will not stop fighting. your actions have awakened the conscience of this community.”
“if my children grow up and come to me with questions about their sexuality or how to find resources at their beautiful ImagineIF library, I have [Gender Queer] in my back pocket, I think it’s a wonderful book.”
~Tara Lee
A 5-decade patron said the turnover of librarians has been low compared to other industries over the years, which speaks to the health of the organization. But, “we’re now seeing turnoveer and losing our best and brightest,” and moving into the lowest tier of libraries in MT
Current speaker, Stacy Dietz is referencing Bowden quoting the book and said “He hasn’t read romance novels. There are a number of books in this library that would make anyone red in the face.”
"there should be something for everyone in the library, and there should be something to offend everyone the library. That's what, what makes it complete.”
Apparently there’s another 45 people upstairs making meeting attendance around around 100.
I beleive that this brings public comment to a close after an hour of speakers. Moving on to board discussion on both books. Starting with Lawn Boy
Trustee Marsha Sultz moved to retain Lawn Boy with a second by Doug Adams.
Trustee Leistiko is speaking about how the Dept. of Justice says a work must be judged on its entirety, not on a specific part that could be offensive.
Senior librarian Sean Anderson is reading the staff recommendation. The committee of four professional librarians included then-interim director Martha Furman. They unanimously decided the book fits the collection development policy and should be kept in the adult fiction section
From the committee memo, “While anyone is free to personally reject materials of which he or she does not approve, he or she may not exercise censorship to restrict the freedom of others."
Trustee adams says he thinks it was well written and the author is witty, but “i feel sorry for the trees, if he’d taken out the bad language the book would be half as long.” But as a literary work he has no problem with it.
Roll call vote is unanimous to keep Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison
Motion is made to retain Gender Queer. staff recommendation is largely identical to that of Lawn Boy. “reviewing the same policy, using the same standard, the review committee unanimously recommends keeping the work on the shelf."
Trustee Ingram is ‘dismayed’ the review committee did not mention any potential violations of MT code re: obscenity/pornography, etc.
“unfortunately our current policy as written does not allow us to make any decision with regard to this material other than affirmation."
Per the Montana State Library, ImagineIF is one of three public libraries in Montana that has Gender Queer in its collection. (Plus Bozeman had it on order as of Dec)
Trustee Leistiko made the point that bc of this challenge, staff and board members have been forced to read the books, but no one else is forced to.
Trustee Ingram is now pointing out that as a physician he can’t approve of a book that recommends avoiding Pap smears, which could constitute malpractice.
librarian anderson “Our job is not to pass judgment or assess the content of these materials as they are selected. nowhere in this policy does it talk about the library's role in assessing appropriateness, judging whether something is pornographic if it is illegal in some way 1/2
"The courts have consistently maintained that that is their responsibility, not the responsibility of the library. not the responsibility of library trustees.” ~ Anderson
He’s now saying that bc of the national conversation over both books, holds have skyrocketed and the library has struggled to get their hands on additional copies. He adds that Gender Queer has won national awards and top review
"I recognize that I will follow the policy but it makes a mockery of your community input if you don't agree with a selection or gives the trustees any oversight other than affirmation.” ~Trustee Ingram adding he doesn’t know why there’s a complaint policy if it can’t go anywhere
“the way i see this book is it was amateurly written and amateurly drawn… the artwork is pretty pathetic.” ~ Trustee Adams on Gender Queer
Adams says that while he didn’t like it and found it offensive, he adds that since its an ‘autobiography’ (memoir) he can’t say anything against it. HOWEVER at the end, it advocates for nonbinary teachers and puberty blocker, the latter which he considered child abuse & dangerous
He’s now saying that according to law, libraries get around obscenity on a technicality because they aren’t selling material. “That’s a pretty low bar and we should be above that."
Adams says the baord shouldn’t be ‘yes people.’
“If all we do is follow the recommendation of staff or the foundation or friends of the library, then why are we here? If y’all got got this, then why am I here?"
Doug Adams is now referencing the last book challenge, Prince and Knight, and saying he was not here, but there’s an AP story that quotes him at that challenge meeting. And he’s stated to me that the challenge is the resason he applied for the board.
Here’s the story about the last book challenge that quotes Doug Adams.…
Sean Anderson is saying that there are no other copies of Gender Queer in the library sharing system of 40+ libraries in the state, which is different than the interlibrary loan process.
Chair heidi Rodehl has shut down a comment about policy by foundation director Charlotte Housel. Vote on the motion is called.
Doug adams, Dave Ingram and Heidi Rodehl abstained in their vote, with Leistiko and Sultz in favor. The motion fails because it needs 3 affirmative votes to pass.
MOTION TO REMOVE GENDER QUEER FROM LIBRARY COLLECTION is on the table. with subsidiary motion to postpone indefinitely the decision on book until policy is rewritten.
Trustee Sultz and Leistiko OBJECT to postponing discussion until the policies are changed.
Trustee Leistiko said to appluase that she objects to the appearence that the three trustees planned their votes on the matter.
Chair Rodehl says she doesn’t beleive the citizen who complained is able to be heard with the policy as currentl written. “We’re in a real pickle."
the VOTE is to postpone discussion and vote on Gender Queer indefinitely. Sults and Leistiko vote NO, Rodehl, Ingram, Adams vote yes
Librarian Anderson told the trustees to be brave and vote to remove the book if that’s what they feel should be done.
Adams said he spoke to the county attorney on the matterand is trying to do things within the law.
The motion to REMOVE Gender Queer is amended to postpone removal discussion indefinitely. Basically, they’re leaving the vote in limbo… until the policty can be looked at or changed.
That motion passed, welcome to limbo
On to other business: The new director accepted the offer. See last week’s tweet thread for more info.
Dicussion is currently about how to onboard and train the new library director. The Trustees, with the help of a rep of the state library, will be in charge of that.
And adjourned. Story will be up later after I decipher 2 hours of notes

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