January 9 Board of Control Meeting/The Removal of Melanie Brevis
Audio of the meeting can be accessed HERE.
Our video coverage of Melanie's comments can be accessed HERE.
It was supposed to be a quiet meeting. The agenda had only the usual items for a library board meeting; the stuff which should be the only things the board talks about every month- the Director's report; the Facilities and Financial reports; some announcements. This was unusual in recent times for our library, and we were actually grateful for it. Our regular group of library supporters were in attendance, and we had planned to make public comments during the portion of the meeting reserved for "Comments from the public on any other matter not on this agenda." None of us had discussed among ourselves prior to the meeting what our comments would be; we simply all wanted to speak to some of the previous censorship issues the board had been having--to have our words entered as part of the public record via the audio recording and our own video recording, and to let the board know we are always monitoring their actions and continue to document their First Amendment violations. We will always make our voices heard, even during quiet months. That being said, we fully expected to say our pieces, be ignored (as always), pack up and go home. I think we all laughed about actually making it home in time for a hot meal on a board meeting night, for once.
Of course, board President Robert Judge had other ideas. Almost as soon as LCAC co-founder Melanie Brevis began to speak, Mr. Judge began to cut her off. "Ma'am, you're out of order," he said, in response to Melanie's words.
Now, was Melanie nice to Robert Judge and Stephanie Armbruster (whom she also mentioned)? Of course not. She called them out directly for the actions they have taken both before and during their time on the library Board of Control. Those actions have not been pretty. She talked about their particular brand of white, evangelical Christian nationalism, and how they've weaponized it in order to transform our library system. She talked about their bigotry and hatred of the LGBTQ community, and how they've cloaked that bigotry in terms like, "pornography," "sexually explicit content," and "grooming." She said things that, I'm sure, made both Judge and Armbruster very uncomfortable. But here's the thing: sometimes the truth does hurt. If you don't like being called a bully, don't engage in bullying.
Instead, Judge proceeded to double-down, utilizing his ever-present double-contingent of armed sheriff's deputies to have Melanie removed from the building. She wasn't arrested, thankfully, but she wasn't allowed to finish her constitutionally protected speech, either.
Needless to say, if Judge's goal was to shut Melanie up, he made a grave error. She had to leave to meeting, to be sure, but denying a quiet, unassuming soccer mom her First Amendment rights tends not to play well in the press. Before the week was out local reporters were knocking on Judge's front door, and Melanie had given interviews to news outlets from all over. Our TikTok videos of the incident have so far garnered over a quarter million views. So yeah, probably not the outcome he was expecting.
So much for a quiet month.
Cara Chance Wins National "I Love My Librarian" Award
On a more positive note, the American Library Association announced in January that North Regional Library manager Cara Chance would be the recipient of their 2023 "I Love My Librarian" award. This award, presented annually at the ALA #LibLearnX23 Conference, is given to ten librarians nationwide who "have gone above and beyond in their commitment to inclusivity, literacy, and digital access." This year Cara was chosen from more than 1500 nominees for her "efforts to erect inclusive displays featuring books with LGBTQ+ themes [that have] have put her at odds with the library’s conservative Board of Control as she has spoken in defense of inclusive materials in the library, and her local community has responded with overwhelming support as a result of Chance’s ongoing service to its residents."
We knew Cara was amazing. Now the rest of the world knows it too.