BONNERS FERRY – After a meeting of the Boundary County Library Board was canceled “in the interest of public safety”, members of the community descended on the library on Monday to show their support by messages of encouragement and gratitude on nearby sidewalks.
The messages covered the sidewalk – from the library parking lot to the crosswalk and up to the library door; chalked notes and quotes of support and thanks to library staff, director and board members.
Library staff told the Bonners Ferry Herald that for the past few months they have been afraid to go to work, due to rising tensions at board meetings, customer interactions and the sound of a shofar, or traditional Hebrew goat’s 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 grateful we are,” said a staff member.
Library director Kimber Glidden told the Bonners Ferry Herald that she had not seen the chalk art until she turned on the computers on Tuesday morning. At first she feared the sidewalk had been vandalized, but once she got out she said she and other staff were moved to tears by the outpouring.
She said seeing the community support “feels incredible among all the lies and hate over the past few months.”
Another member of staff said it made him think of the Holy Bible verse Mark 12:31 when he talks about ‘loving your neighbor as yourself’.
Another staff member said it’s been a long year with the ongoing push to limit access to books or ban them outright from libraries across the country, including Boundary County.
So many people went to last library board meeting that many were unable to enter the Armory building. It is also in the wake of a recall effort remove four of the five members of the library board. Those organizing the effort asked to remain anonymous, but indicated their involvement on social media.
The public notice announcing the cancellation of the meeting stated “due to an increase in harassing behavior, derogatory accusations and an alleged threat of violence”, the BCL Board of Directors was asked to cancel the regular meeting.
“When it has been determined that in-person meetings can safely resume, notices will be posted,” the notice said.
The news of the cancellation and the reasons for it prompted community members to organize the event to show their support for the library on July 18. The Bonners Ferry Herald received a request from members of the community to advertise the event on social media, but minutes later the request was canceled due to concerns that agitators would come to approach or dox and threaten those who support the library.
At least two dozen community members showed up to support BCL between 6 and 9 p.m. Many of the chalked words were words of encouragement to the library staff, director and board. Words like “we support the council”, “We appreciate you”, “Thank you” were some of the words of support. Between the designs of peace signs and flowers were selected criticisms and quotes against censorship and tyranny directed against the recall.
A quote has been written right outside the library’s front door.
“Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you’re going to cover up flaws by covering up the evidence that they ever existed. Don’t be afraid to go to your library and read all the books. —Dwight D. Eisenhower
Another quote from Mark Twain said, “It is easier to deceive people than to convince them that they have been duped.”
Other quotes spoke of “good parenting” rather than censorship, as well as the importance of knowledge being accessible to all.
“Everyone has an opinion, and the guy yelling censorship might be the next to get his mind cut off,” another post read.