Thousands raised in online fundraiser after Michigan library is defunded over LGBTQ+ books

·2 min read

Story at a glance

  • An online fundraising campaign has accumulated tens of thousands of dollars to keep the doors of a local Michigan library open after it was defunded earlier this month.

  • More than 60 percent of Jamestown Township residents in an Aug. 2 election voted to defeat a proposal to renew a property tax millage that funds more than 80 percent of the library’s yearly budget, citing the library’s refusal to remove LGBTQ+ books.

  • The library board at a Monday meeting said it would pursue another millage.

Nearly $100,000 has been raised in an online fundraising campaign for a Michigan library that was defunded earlier this month after it refused to take books featuring LGBTQ+ identities and issues off the shelves.

Residents of Jamestown Township – a conservative stronghold in western Michigan – in an Aug. 2 vote defeated a proposal to renew a property tax millage that funds most of its local library’s budget.

The president of the Patmos Library board, Larry Walton, told the Associated Press following the vote that without the millage, he expects the library to close its doors permanently before the end of next year. Patmos Library will retain its millage until the spring of 2023.

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Speaking to Bridge Michigan last week, Walton called the vote “short-sighted” and “disappointing.”

“I wasn’t expecting anything like this,” he said. “The library is the center of the community.”

In the months leading up to the vote, members of the group Jamestown Conservatives put up yard signs and distributed flyers to other community members that accused the library and its staff of “grooming children for sexual exploitation” by making LGBTQ+ books accessible to young readers.

“They are trying to groom our children to believe that it’s OK to have these sinful desires,” Amanda Ensing, a member of Jamestown Conservatives, said of library officials, Bridge Michigan reported. “It’s not a political issue, it’s a Biblical issue.”

Two days after the vote, on Aug. 4, Jamestown resident Jesse Dillman created an online fundraiser for the library with a goal of $245,000, or one year of operating expenses. As of Thursday, the GoFundMe campaign had accrued nearly $99,000 from more than 2,000 donors.

“I love Jamestown and the people who make up its community,” Dillman wrote in an Aug. 6 update. “They are the reason I am here doing this.”

On Thursday, Dillman said the response to the fundraiser had been overwhelming, and announced that he was partnering with the nonprofit EveryLibrary to distribute the money to Patmos Library.

Patmos Library’s board on Monday, following a nearly two-and-a-half hour public comment period, said it would pursue another millage.

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