Library Defunded for Having LGBTQ Books Raises 50k+ In Donations

Danika Ellis

Associate Editor

Danika spends most of her time talking about queer women books at the Lesbrary. Blog: The Lesbrary Twitter: @DanikaEllis

Patmos Library in Michigan has faced a year-long attack from right-wing groups who want LGBTQ books removed from the shelves, which make up .015% of the collection. Despite harassment campaigns, the library has refused to censor its books. In response, the Jamestown Conservatives group rallied to have the library defunded, with signs that called the librarians “groomers” as well as claims that they were “indoctrinating” children.

One representative of the Jamestown Conservative group said, “They are trying to groom our children to believe that it’s OK to have these sinful desires… It’s not a political issue, it’s a Biblical issue.”

The library lost the millage vote, meaning the library soon won’t have enough funding to stay open: it may close by fall 2023. When asked if the result was a “wake up call,” the library board president responded, “A wake-up call to what? To take LGBTQ books off the shelf and then they will give us money? What do you call that? Ransom?” He continued, “We stand behind the fact that our community is made up of a very diverse group of individuals, and we as a library cater to the diversity of our community.”

You can find out more about this vote and the group who organized it by reading Kelly Jensen’s coverage from earlier this week.

In response, two Jamestown residents started GoFundMe campaigns to raise money for the library. The largest one was started by Jesse Dillman, who said, “The Patmos Library in Jamestown is a core part of the community fabric. I firmly believe most residents here don’t share these views and desire to continue funding our local library.”

“A wake-up call to what? To take LGBTQ books off the shelf and then they will give us money? What do you call that? Ransom?”

Patmos Library board president Larry Walton

Within four days, it’s already raised over $59,000, with the second GoFundMe raising another $2,900. That represents more than 1,000 donors from across the world. The library is set to lost $245,000 in tax funding, but the money raised will hopefully keep the library open until they can secure ongoing funding.

The library board is meeting to make a plan for its future, but the most likely outcome seems to be getting millage voted on again in November, though they would have to pay for expenses for the election, because it would be the only topic on the ballot.

If you have money to spare, consider donating to the Patmos Library. As right-wing censorship against LGBTQ books increases, this small library may represent a pivotal point: if the Jamestown Conservatives succeed, it’s guaranteed that other right-wing groups across the country will follow suit to try to get their libraries defunded. Patmos Library’s integrity in standing by representing all of their community, including queer people, should be defended, especially since so many other libraries are in this same situation.

It’s also worth noting that defunding the library will hurt disadvantaged residents the most. It’s not only where people can get books for pleasure or education for free, but also a place to escape extreme temperatures, to access the internet, to find community, to develop new skills, to work on job applications and résumés, to entertain kids with story time and other activities, and so much more. This group is willing to take the library away from everyone in the community just to censor queer books.

If we can collectively as readers raise a lot of money for this library and Jamestown locals can rally enough residents to vote yes on a November millage vote, that will send a strong message that these tactics don’t work — that they can backfire and provide the library with more support and more funding. And hopefully, next time a book banning group considers defunding the library, they’ll remember Patmos Library.

To donate to Patmos Library, check out Jesse Dillman’s GoFundMe.

To read more about this story, go to Bridge Michigan. To get the backstory, read Kelly Jensen’s coverage.

And to learn more about fighting censorship, sign up for the Literary Activism newsletter and check out our anti-censorship tool kit.