Wednesday, March 22, 2023
41.0°F

Boundary County Library’s future in question

by EMILY BONSANT
Staff Writer | August 19, 2022 11:00 AM

Story has been updated.

BONNERS FERRY —- Threatening behavior, combative meetings, pending loss of its insurance and a recall against four of its trustees may put the future of the Boundary County Library in question.

It has also led to the resignation of the library district’s director, who cited growing harassment and concern about the behavior in announcing her decision to resign Tuesday on social media.

In the post, Boundary County Library Director Kimber Glidden thanked the board for providing her the opportunity to serve as director of the Boundary County Library but said she felt she had no other option than to step down from the post.

“My experience and skill set made me a good fit to help the district move toward a more current and relevant business model and to implement updated policy and best practices,” she wrote. “However, nothing in my background could have prepared me for the political atmosphere of extremism, militant Christian fundamentalism, intimidation tactics, and threatening behavior currently being employed in the community.”

Glidden has received both backlash and support after a debate over whether certain books should be allowed at the library, some said the board opened the door to allowing pornography and material harmful to children in the library. The opposing side disagreed since the library does not have the books in question.

Glidden told the Bonners Ferry Herald she did not say that she had received threats, but that there had been threatening behavior, particularly in the form of bizarre, threatening biblical quotes aimed at her.

A neighbor contacted Glidden Thursday to warn her that earlier this week armed individuals came to the neighbor's house, advising she believed they had come looking for Glidden.

There was a large law enforcement presence including Bonners Ferry Police Department and Boundary County Sheriff’s Office at the Aug. 18 Boundary County Library board meeting.

Boundary County commissioners said Monday that some of those present at the Aug. 18 meeting were disrespectful to county employees and interfered with the Veteran Services officer doing business.

Commissioner Dan Dinning reminded those present that the Armory also houses Probation, Department of Motor Vehicles and Emergency Services. He added that those attending the meeting were not respectful by not following signage of reserved spots for county employees.

Dinning said that the library board meetings will not be moved to a different location, due to already being scheduled at the Armory throughout the year.

Commissioner Tim Bertling said that the parking lot had several issues, from library board meeting goers taking reserved parking spots and denying parking to those visiting the Armory for services.

Bertling added that a BCSO may need a larger presence at the meeting.

“That is a shame,” Dinning said.

The commissioners agreed that those attending meetings at the Armory should park across the street at the middle school if the parking begins to fill, while leaving reserved parking and spaces for those visiting the facility for services.

The commissioners will be adding more signage at the Armory parking lot to identify reserved employee parking spaces.

While there were no specific threats, BFPD Chief Brian Zimmerman told the Bonners Ferry Herald historically there have been shouting matches at past meetings and that law enforcement was there to keep it peaceful.

“[Law enforcement] has no opinion on either side, but wants to ensure peace,” he said.

Like past meetings, Thursday’s meeting contained what could be interpreted as veiled threats, quoting of Bible verses and more.

After quoting Matthew 18:6, a resident told the board and the director they needed to “repent of wanting to harm our children.” Another said that, like Glidden, if board members felt threatened, then they should resign as well.

A third person shared definitions of words directed at the board and the director. Of those was “dereliction of duty,” “malfeasance" and “corruption.”

The man accused Glidden of calling “people in this community names, such as extremists, militants, liars in order to make yourself a victim in the eyes of the public.” Instead of supporting the community, she was supporting the “woke movement” and herself, he said.

“You actively push to make sexual content available to children when you’re supposed to be protecting them,” he said. “You’ve [been] given the opportunity to stop that and you have chosen to perpetuate it. I call that a perpetrator.”

About 50 minutes into the Aug. 18 meeting, someone outside blew a shofar, a traditional Hebrew goat horn used for religious ceremonies and a call for battle.

He then questioned whether any of the library board members had been elected to the board.

Others spoke out against censorship of books and the recall, saying they feared that it would set a precedent of added governmental oversight. Such a shift of democratic thinking could eventually lead to the Bible being censored at the library, some said. They said they supported the current board and the director, highlighting the positive impacts they have had on so many people’s lives.

After Glidden announced her resignation on social media, Mary Francis, a pseudonym to Kristina Rudeen-Fisher commented, “One small step for man. One giant VICTORY for Boundary County.” In response, another commented, “The only victory here has been for bigotry.”

One Boundary County resident, Dana Boiler went so far as to post a public records request on the Boundary County Library's social media page in the comments “for all reports, notes, correspondence, emails, texts, phone calls or any other record reducible to tangible form evidencing 'intimidation tactics' and 'threats' made by 'extremist militant fundamentalist Christians' against you (Director), the staff, or Trustees of the Boundary County Library from January, 2022 to the present.”

A self-proclaimed whistleblower, Boiler sent in a tort claim against the library, which has still yet to be filed with any jurisdictional body.

Glidden said that Boundary County Library has had an “ongoing personnel issue” and the tort claim was made public by its writer to 9B News.

Zimmerman told the Herald that the “threats made against Glidden” haven’t met the threshold required by Idaho Code. He confirmed that no police reports have been filed at this time and there is currently no ongoing investigation.

However, Glidden said there is a clear pattern of harassment, noting she has received 10 public records requests from the same person in 15 calendar days. She has received as many as three in a day.

“How is that not harassment?” she asked.

She added that due to the lengthy process of public records requests and being so inundated with them, it is difficult to do her job of managing the library.

After a July 14 Boundary County Library meeting was canceled “in the interest of public safety,” Zimmerman said the department has had a police presence at the library and meetings. A Bonners Ferry Police patrol vehicle was left parked at the library for multiple days “due to vacation and for visibility,” he said.

Glidden said the meeting was canceled because someone notified the attorney for the library's insurance carrier, the Idaho Counties Risk Management Program, better known as ICRMP, that he was in possession of video evidence of threats against the upcoming BCL meeting.

The person did not notify law enforcement, Glidden said. Once she and the board were notified by ICRMP of the “evidence of threats” they immediately contacted the Boundary County Sheriff’s Office and Bonners Ferry Police Department.

The library is now at risk of losing its insurance when its policy comes up for renewal in October.

In response to the canceled meeting, community members descended on the library July 18, to show their support through messages of encouragement and gratitude on the nearby sidewalks.

Along with support from community members, Glidden received backlash on social media.

The July library board meeting had an estimated audience of 130, with many in support of the library board unable to enter the building due to the crowded room. At this meeting the board updated its collection development and maintenance policy and discussed individual freedom.

“Our job is not to support one group's rights over another. Our job is not to support one idea or another. Our job is to support all ideas,” Trustee Lee Colson said at the meeting. “We are a public service. Our service is to provide public information.”

The policy update passed by a 3-1 vote and sparked a recall of four of the five board members.

While the Boundary County Library has not joined the American Library Association, Glidden joined it individually, because it is a trade organization. Through the membership she is able to partner with other librarians for support, such as expanding collections.

She told the Bonners Ferry Herald one example librarian support could be working with other librarians to expand Boundary County Library's Native Heritage Collection. The membership also provides other training opportunities and program development.

Recent Headlines