Metro Weekly

Michigan Residents Raise $114,000 to Save Library From Bigots

After conservatives voted down the Patmos Library's funding for refusing to ban LGBTQ books, two residents took up the cause with a Gofundme.

Patmos Library – Photo: Ron French/Bridge Michigan

When a small, largely conservative Michigan town voted to defund its public library over the LGBTQ-themed books on its shelves, a pair of residents started a Gofundme to help keep the doors open.

It has already raised a whopping amount of money, nearly half of its stated $245,000 goal.

The issue began after parents in Jamestown Township, a haven located southwest of Grand Rapids, discovered the adult graphic novel Gender Queer: A Memoir on the Patmos Library’s shelves. The popular book addresses the realities of growing up non-binary and features sexually explicit situations and illustrations.

Conservatives stormed library board meetings demanding that Gender Queer — and all other LGBTQ-themed books — be banned.

The residents also formed a group called “Jamestown Conservatives,” with the explicit purpose of stopping the library from promoting LGBTQ and “sexually explicit” books.

“We stand to keep our children safe, and protect their purity, as well as to keep the nuclear family intact as God designed,” the group’s Facebook page reads.

Patmos Library officials were willing to put Gender Queer: A Memoir “behind the counter,” so children would not accidentally stumble upon it, but refused to cede to any further demands, including a wholesale ban of LGBTQ books.

Ultimately, this led to a showdown at the polls on August 2, with more than 62% of Jamestown Township’s 10,000 residents denying the library its $245,000 millage, the annual funding it needs to operate.

“They are trying to groom our children to believe that it’s OK to have these sinful desires,” Amanda Ensing, a co-organizer of the Jamestown Conservatives told reporter Ron French of Bridge Michigan. “It’s not a political issue, it’s a Biblical issue.”

The lack of funds would force the library to shut down in the fall of 2023 permanently.

Jamestown Conservatives are hoping the Aug. 2 vote will send “a wake-up call” to the library board.

“A wake-up call to what?” library board president Larry Walton responded to Bridge Michigan. “To take LGBTQ books off the shelf and then they will give us money? What do you call that? Ransom?”

Walton continued, “We stand behind the fact that our community is made up of a very diverse group of individuals, and we as a library cater to the diversity of our community.”

In conjunction with fellow resident Jesse Dillman and the EveryLibrary Institute, Walton started a Gofundme to raise enough money to keep the library open without requiring public funding.

“Leading up to a local election on August 2nd, 2022, there was a small, but well-coordinated and vocal movement in Jamestown to defund our library,”  the Gofundme’s description reads.

“This group stoked outrage due to the presence of some books about the LGBT+ community. The Patmos Library in Jamestown is a core part of the community fabric. I firmly believe most residents here don’t share these views and desire to continue funding our local library.”

To date, the Patmos Library Gofundme has raised $114,000, and is well on its way of achieving its $245,000 goal.

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