The lease for the Pottawatomie Wabaunsee Regional Library in St. Marys is safe for another year, following a unanimous 4-0 vote by city commissioners Tuesday to extend it without any restrictions.
That’s St. Marys Mayor Matthew Childs.
Tuesday’s vote came after uproar by citizens at a Nov. 15 meeting, wanting to keep the library open, as well as pressure from the American Civil Liberties Union. Video of the Nov. 15 meeting is shared below.
The issue in question – a renewal clause proposed by Childs that, according to the Kansas Reflector, stipulated the library “not support, distribute, loan, encourage or coerce acceptance of or approval of explicit sexually or racially or socially divisive material, extending to the support of LGBTQ+ themed events.”
Tensions have been mounting since a book came to light in the library’s collection called “Melissa” by trans author Alex Gino, a story about a middle school-aged trans student fighting to be accepted as a girl. The book is no longer available at the library after a St. Marys parent paid to have the book removed, according to the Reflector.
Vice Mayor Gerard Kleinsmith says he doesn’t want his tax dollars paying for books he doesn’t approve of, noting the library isn’t reflective of the citizens it serves.
Library director Judith Cremer was among several who spoke at the November 15 meeting, at the time defending the library against claims of harming the community by providing such material.
According to the Reflector, all five city commissioners are members of the Society of St. Pius X, an extreme Catholic religious sect.
The library’s lease is now good through Dec. 31, 2023.