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The Great Boundary County Library Scandal

May 22, 2023

Last summer, Adrienne Norris and Donna Capurso circulated recall petitions which falsely claimed that Library Board members are “further adopting potentially sexualized, pornographic, pervasive [sic] and deviant material into our library.” No recall election ensued because few county residents signed on for the lies.

On May 2, 2023, Library Board candidates Mary-Esther Wilson and Lewis Clark were part of a Mt. Hall Community Church campaign rally which falsely claimed that current Board members support pornography and pedophilia.

On May 16, voters rejected Wilson and Clark and the lies. The hateful smear campaign—part of the nationwide Christian Nationalist attack on public libraries—had failed, once again, in Boundary County. (It did succeed in Kootenai County.)

Gregory Lamberty, a retiree from South Carolina, has joined the porn-again Christians. He endorsed Wilson and Clark because the library is “embroiled in scandal” and “we cannot risk our children’s future with the present bunch.” The endorsement concluded with a show of concern about protecting kids from pornography.

Earlier, Lamberty submitted three Material Reconsideration requests to the library. He wanted Young Adult books by Ellen Hopkins—Crank (2004), Impulse (2007), and Perfect (2011)—removed from the collection. He wrote that “the passages I read gave several methods to commit suicide” and “give children ways to do drugs” and “there is a mixture of suicide, drugs and immoral sex all of which leads to misery.”

On May 18, the Library Board held a special meeting to consider Lamberty’s requests. Several local testimonies, read aloud, indicated that these books have helped young people through difficult times. Perhaps that’s why they were once national bestsellers, despite being written in poetic verse and averaging over 600 pages in length (according to Amazon.com).

Lee Colson, the only Board member who appeared to have tackled all three books, described them as “cautionary tales” that end on a “somewhat hopeful note.” He suggested that awareness of what many teenagers experience is better than pretending their problems don’t exist. (Zone 5 voters did well to reelect him.)

So why did Lamberty tell the Board that these books would cause children “from a good family” to become suicidal? Why does he imagine the books are dangerous how-to manuals?

Perhaps he didn’t read them. Perhaps he visited a reactionary website, favored by Norris, which lists the “immoral” passages from Hopkins’s books, allowing a person to be outraged without taking the time to be informed. One question on the Reconsideration form asks, “Did you read the entirety of this item? If not, what parts?” Lamberty listed 17 individual pages—less than 1 percent of the total.

This, then, is the great library scandal. No pornography, no pedophilia, just Lamberty wanting to “protect the children” from library books he admittedly hasn’t read…and no one else reads either. According to library director Lynn Silva, these books were once popular but no longer get checked out.

The Board voted unanimously to keep the three books in the Young Adult section until Silva can find new books covering the same topics. A curious decision—Board members who haven’t read the books voting to replace them. Or a brilliant decision—perhaps the new books will attract readers and help them through difficult times. Or an exercise in futility—teenagers will stick to their phones and social media posts and the Young Adult section will continue to gather dust.
Timothy Braatz
Bonners Ferry

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