BONNERS FERRY — After a Boundary County Library Board meeting was canceled “in the interest of public safety,” community members descended on the library Monday to show their support through messages of encouragement and gratitude on the nearby sidewalks.
Messages covered the sidewalk — from the library parking lot to the crosswalk and all the way up to the library door; chalk-written notes and quotes in support and thankfulness to the library staff, director and board of trustee members.
Library staff told the Bonners Ferry Herald that in the past months they have been afraid to go to work, due to the rising tensions at board meetings, interactions with patrons and the blowing of a shofar, or traditional Hebrew goat horn, outside the library and board meetings.
Library staff said seeing the support from the community is a blessing and the answer to prayers.
“I don’t have the adjectives to describe how thankful we are,” one staff member said.
Library Director Kimber Glidden told the Bonners Ferry Herald that she did not see the chalk art until she was turning on computers Tuesday morning. At first she was concerned that the sidewalk had been vandalized, but once she stepped outside, she said she and other staff members were moved to tears by the outpouring.
She said seeing the community’s support “feels amazing amongst all the lies and hate over the past few months.”
Another staff member said that it makes her think of The Holy Bible verse Mark 12:31 when it speaks of “loving your neighbor as yourself.”
Another staff member said that it has been a long year with the current push to limit access to, or ban books outright, at libraries across the country, including Boundary County.
So many people turned out at the last library board meeting that many were unable to enter the Armory building. This is also upon the heels of a recall effort to remove four of the five members of the library board. The individuals organizing the effort have requested to remain anonymous, but have indicated their involvement on social media.
The public notice posted the canceling of the meeting stated “due to an increase in harassing behavior, derogative accusations and a purported threat of violence,” the BCL board has been advised to cancel the regular meeting.
“When it has been determined that in-person meetings can resume safely, notices will be posted,” the notice reads.
News of the cancellation, and the reasons why, prompted community members to organize the event to show support for the library on July 18. The Bonners Ferry Herald received a request from community members to announce the event on social media, but minutes later the request was rescinded due to fear that agitators would come to accost or dox and threaten those supporting the library.
At least two dozen community members showed up in support of BCL between the hours of 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Many of the words written in chalk were words of encouragement to library staff, the director and the board. Words like “we stand with the board,” “We appreciate you,” “thank you” were some of the words in support. Between drawings of peace signs and flowers was criticism and selected quotes against censorship and tyranny directed at the recall.
One quote was written right outside the library front door.
“Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you’re going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don’t be afraid to go in your library and read every book.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower
Another quote Mark Twain said “It is easier to fool people than it is to convince them they have been fooled.”
Other quotes spoke of “good parenting” rather than censorship, as well as the importance of knowledge being available to all.
“Everyone has an opinion, and the guy screaming for censorship may be the next guy to have his ideas cut off,” another message said.