Library of PatmosPhoto: Google Maps
Best-selling romance novelist Nora Roberts just wrote a page-turning response to haters in Michigan, where she donated $50,000 to a bottomless library. She says there are more where that came from, if they need it.
And she can afford it. Roberts, 71, is the author of more than 225 romance novels, with more than half a billion copies sold.
The bodice-ripping writer’s gift went to a GoFundMe campaign organized by supporters of the Patmos Library, a public library in the township of Jamestown.
In August, small-town voters rejected a ballot measure to renew a property tax that funds the local institution.
The levy pays 84% of the library’s $245,000 annual budget. The failure of the measure means they will run out of public money in 2023.
Earlier this year, a parent in the township complained about Gender Queer, a graphic novel by Maia Kobabe about accepting sexual identity. The book, written for ages 14 and up, was in the adult section, but the parent denounced the memoir as pornography and said it shouldn’t be in the library at all.
The complaint sparked a riot among conservative residents, who overran school board meetings and demanded the removal of several LGBTQ-themed books from library shelves.
The library director was harassed and resigned. Her replacement followed her to the door.
Dissatisfied with the officials’ response, a campaign was launched to defund the library by voting against the local property tax and starving it to extinction. Signs started popping up around the city, telling people to oppose the measure.
“50% INCREASE in Mileage to GAIN our children? Vote NO to the library!” one sign said, using the word “mileage” for property tax, plus the anti-LGBTQ slur.
The library opponents won and Patmos was kept alive.
Robert’s donation pushed two GoFundMe campaigns past $245,000, providing at least another year of library services.
“Libraries are treasure troves, opening the door to books and stories for everyone,” Roberts said. Michigan Bridge. “Librarians, to me, are the keepers of these stories. I find the idea of librarians – who provide community services beyond reading – facing threats and attacks, a community library facing funding both appalling and sad.
“It is an honor for me to defend the library of Patmos and its staff.”
Roberts commented on the GoFundMe page that she would have contributed more, but “50k is the limit GoFundMe allows for donations. If you haven’t reached your goal, contact me. I’ll catch up on the rest.
The Patmos Library has 144 titles by Nora Roberts in its collection, compared to 90 LGBTQ-themed books on the shelves.