Commission sets date for special meeting with Library Board

Campbell County Courthouse Photo (File Photo/County 17)

A special meeting has been set for Thursday morning between the Campbell County Commission and the Campbell County Public Library Board to address controversy arising within the community over LGBTQ+ literature.

The meeting will be held at 9 a.m. Aug. 12 in the Campbell County Public Library’s Wyoming Room, according to a notice of special meeting sent out by the Campbell County Commission on Aug. 5.

The official purpose of the meeting will be to meet with the library board to “discuss library operations to include the library collection development policy, the collection challenge process, and training programs,” per the notice.

The announcement came a mere 48 hours after Commissioner Del Shelstad called for such a meeting on Aug. 3, shortly after several angry residents questioned the commission’s response to public outcry against LGBTQ+ literature in the Campbell County Public Library.

“What have you all done since the last time we were here?” asked Susan Bennet. “You’re not here to listen, be indifferent, or be apathetic. You’re here because you have an oath and part of your oath is to be the legislative, executive, judicial branch of Campbell County and represent us.”

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The only thing she’s seen since the previous round of anti-LGBTQ+ literature comments during commission meetings in July is an anti-discrimination statement.

“We don’t discriminate? Well, I’m here to tell you that you are discriminating against latchkey children,” Bennet stated, adding that there are many children who are often left home alone because their parents are working or are drug addicts.

The argument she hears, Bennet continued, is that the decision on what books a child has access to is up to the parent.

“Why do you think we’re here?” she asked. “We are parents and grandparents fighting for our children. This is not against acceptance, or tolerance, or discrimination against LGBTQ+. This is about our children, and we need your support and your help to change the policies and to look into the library policies.”

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The trustees that oversee the library are not professionals; they’re not teachers, educators, doctors, or counselors, Bennet said, they are people that have opinions which is fine for adults but not for children, who are not equipped to handle LGBTQ+ material.

“This is an enticement, this is child neglect, and you guys, be warned, there are laws and you guys are very close to violating all of them and, even if your term is up, you come back because you had an oath to protect and do what’s best for us,” Bennet concluded.

Minutes after Bennet’s comments, Shelstad made a motion that the board set a date for a special meeting, before the next quarterly update, so that the commission could receive timely answers to the issues raised by a handful of community members, to which many of those present at the Aug. 3 meeting applauded.

“Please don’t clap,” Shelstad said. “This is a sad situation. I don’t like applause for doing my job. I think the question was asked ‘What have we done?’ We haven’t done anything and we need to get answers for both sides as far as I’m concerned.”