‘I felt my safety was compromised’: Fears push Cd’A librarian to resign
COEUR d’ALENE – When Delaney Daly began her work at the Coeur d’Alene Public Library on August 23, 2021, as the Children’s Library Supervisor, she had high hopes that this would be a great chapter in her life. .
Just over 10 months later, she quit.
She said she no longer felt safe after repeated unfriendly encounters with parents over books they deemed inappropriate for children.
“Heartbreaking,” she said in a phone interview with The Press on Tuesday when asked to sum up her time in Coeur d’Alene.
Today, Daly works as a library branch manager in the Houston area. She described the people there as “very nice”, with moderate to liberal views.
“For me, it’s just a better fit overall,” she said.
Daly said she never really felt at home in the more conservative Coeur d’Alene after leaving Florida.
During her first week on the job, she faced challenges with the materials available at the children’s library.
It continued. The parents approached her and her staff on several occasions and declared that certain documents were an abomination, pedophilia and an affront to the Bible.
While Daly said she was not physically threatened, the encounters, which she described as aggressive and angry, made her feel uncomfortable.
A meeting with several parents to discuss the matter did not help and made her even more defensive.
Daly said she tried to explain that there are transgender, LGBTQ and gay parents who appreciate having books available that reflect their lifestyle and that they can share with their children.
It didn’t help.
She said there were two mothers in particular who were “pretty persistent in causing hell at the library”.
Her situation is similar to that of Boundary County Library Director Kimber Glidden, who recently announced her resignation, effective September 10.
She too indicated that she did not feel safe.
“Nothing in my background could have prepared me for the political atmosphere of extremism, militant Christian fundamentalism, bullying tactics and threatening behavior currently employed in the community,” Glidden wrote.
In an article published July 22 in the School Library Journal, Daly writes:
“One Friday afternoon in June 2022, outside my office, a mother conveyed her concern to me in an emphatic and disruptive way, greeting Melissa of Alex Gino (formerly titled George), winner of the Stonewall Book Award 2016. She was facing at me and yelling at me, “No, actually, I think this is the time and the place for this conversation”, and all I could do was stand there and recite my usual script just as calmly and politely as possible under the circumstances: “Libraries do not censor materials. Libraries are for everyone. As a children’s librarian, it is my job to ensure that every child and family in this community feels seen, heard and represented. She had none of that. She snatched our principal’s business cards from my shaking fingers, grabbed her children, and stormed out of the children’s library. I called my manager immediately. It was the first time that I shouted at him on the phone. It was also the first time that I wondered if I was made for this.”
He reached a breaking point at the Pride in the Park event on June 11 at Coeur d’Alene City Park, which Daly attended and wore rainbow colors.
She said the arrest nearby on the same day of 31 Patriot Front members who may have been heading to Pride in the Park was chilling.
Daly feared that armed people had gone to the Coeur d’Alene library.
“I felt my safety was compromised,” she said.
She delivered her review, with her last day at the library July 1.
“I knew it was time,” Daly said.
Coeur d’Alene Public Library director Michael Priest said some members of the community have expressed concerns about certain materials over the past year, particularly children’s materials with LGBTQ-related themes.
Some have brought their concerns to the library board.
Priest said he was also contacted directly by people “to share their perspective on the matter.
“Some have called for sequestration or removal of the materials. Equally, if not more, have expressed support for maintaining a collection that presents diverse viewpoints,” Priest wrote in an email to The Press.
He said people were sometimes upset, but not to the point of making threats.
“At no time did I feel that the library had become an unsafe working environment. This is a dialogue that is currently taking place at the national level and is now part of the job,” Priest wrote.
The library board did not respond to an email from The Press seeking comment on the matter.
Daly said she took the Coeur d’Alene library job “with the best of intentions” and that “people worked tirelessly to break me down.”
Although she understands that there are parents who don’t approve of some of the books in the children’s library, she doesn’t think that’s a reason to cause an uproar and get in someone’s face.
She said the push by some to ban the books “is very concerning and very dangerous”.
“If you don’t like something, ignore it,” she said.
Daly also suggested that parents monitor what their children read, talk to them and explain what certain books are about, and not expect library staff to do this for them.
“Don’t attack people who are public servants,” Daly said. “It doesn’t do anyone any good.”