Last night’s Goldendale City Council meeting was dominated by a citizens group concerned with some of the materials available at the Goldendale Library. The city is in an unusual position in that the city owns the building, but the library is operated as a branch of the Fort Vancouver Regional Library.
The group gathered in response to an incident reported on social media by Olga Holmes, who served as the lead spokesperson for the group at the council meeting. She told the council that she had taken her three children to the library to print out some material, and said she had been startled by some of the books she saw:
“We saw typical stuff that kind of rubbed me the wrong way. I was not really happy with it. The first book I saw was about talking to your children about white privilege. I wondered why six-year-olds need to know about that. Along with that, I saw a book about tarot reading, and I thought, how do we wipe that out.”
Then, she said, they went upstairs to the section marked for 12 to 18-year-olds where she saw something that really concerned her:
“I look and there’s a mature rating on here, and I’m thinking, ‘OK, that’s interesting.’ First thing I open up to and there are two minors engaged in sex, naked…I’m thinking, ‘Wow, that’s pretty inappropriate.’”
Holmes told the council that she found other, more explicit pictures and descriptions, and went to speak to the librarian.
“She offered me a form, which I did accept. I was kind of frustrated because, you know, I was like, she was probably was just going to come down to see which to review. Nope. Firm resistance and pushiness, and ultimately she called the police on me and my children and I were escorted out by a policeman.”
Police Chief Jay Hunziker explained to the council that even though it’s a public building, if the person who controls the building asks someone to leave, and the person doesn’t leave, that’s trespassing, and people can be charged for that. This did not happen in this case, and Holmes said the officer was respectful and supportive.
Several other people voiced their concerns, and ultimately, the council voted to examine the nature of the current agreement between the city and the Fort Vancouver Regional Library and set up a subcommittee to involve citizens in a public process to see what might be done.
Others, however cautioned the council about their course of action. One of those was council member Dave Jones, who said it was really easy to jump on a bandwagon, and that such things had led to bans on books such as Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird and 1984.
And Rick Lundin had this comment:
“This is an extremely slippery slope. Who sits on a council and says ‘This is offensive,’ or ‘This is not offensive?” This has been done in America, and it’s rarely worked out well.”
In the limited time of the meeting that wasn’t part of the hourlong discussion, council members voted a necessary budget adjustment to cover increased costs for the new police car authorized at the last meeting, and had a first reading of an ordinance that would double council members’ salary from $100 a month to $200 a month, noting that state law says current members can’t qualify for an increase until after they face the public in an election. So those who are elected this November won’t get their pay increase until they start their next term in January,