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'The library is for everyone': Future of Jamestown Twp. library uncertain ahead of Tuesday's midterm election

A levy renewal is on the November ballot after a millage failed back in August
Posted at 6:19 PM, Nov 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-04 18:24:38-04

JAMESTOWN TOWNSHIP, Mich. — The future of the Patmos Library is uncertain ahead of election day Tuesday, as a levy renewal to fund their continued operations is on the ballot.

The library first opened its doors back in 2000 — the township passed a .5 mill levy in 2002, and then renewed it ten years later in 2012.

“This time around, we have the same renewal with an increase... an increase because things have changed,” Larry Walton, Patmos board president, told FOX 17 Friday.

"We have utility costs. We have staff salary… costs have all increased, and so that just means that some something's [got to] give.”

A millage was on the ballot back in August, but failed after citizens raised public concerns over some of the books on the library's shelves — Young adult graphic novels such as Gender Queer, Spinning and Kiss Number 8.

“The library is for everyone in this community, everyone,” Walton said.

Walton says the LGBTQIA+ associated content in question makes up just 0.01% of the library's collection of over 67,000 pieces of media.

Big signs are now littered across lawns throughout the township — dozens of homes supporting the levy, with just as many, if not more, opposed to it.

"I would like those books not to be available for children. you know, to me it's just minor pornography to a point," one woman who has lived in the area for decades told FOX 17.

"We're all God's kids, you know, and you got to love the people, but not love what they're doing or what they're saying."

The fight over the library has attracted the attention and efforts of political action group, EveryLibrary.

“There are activities happening in many different places where folks, who would like to protect children, they say," said executive director of EveryLibrary John Chrastka.

"Making choices for families based on their own family's choices. It's not how democracy works. It's not how libraries work.”

A GoFundMe page already helped to raise more than $260,000 for the library. While library staff and board members are grateful for the donations that came in, they say it won't sustain their efforts in the long run.

He says they have figured they would only be able to keep Patmos Library open for another 1.5 years or so using the donation money on hand, if the levy renewal fails on Tuesday.

“It's a close battle coming up next week," Walton said. "So, I'm requesting everybody to come out... Every vote counts at this point.”

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