News (USA)

Best selling novelist donates $50k to library defunded over books with LGBTQ content

Patmos Library
Patmos Library Photo: Google Maps

Nora Roberts, the uber-best-selling romance novelist, just penned a page-turning response to haters in Michigan, where she donated an eye-popping $50,000 to a defunded library. She says there’s 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 donation went to a GoFundMe campaign organized by supporters of Patmos Library, a public library in Jamestown Township.

In August, voters in the small town rejected a ballot measure to renew a property tax that funds the local institution.

The tax pays for 84% of the library’s $245,000 yearly budget. The failed measure means they’ll run out of public money sometime in 2023.

Earlier this year, a parent in the township complained about Gender Queer, a graphic novel by Maia Kobabe about coming to terms with 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 overtook school board meetings and demanded the removal of multiple LGBTQ-themed books from library shelves.

The library’s director was harassed and resigned. Her replacement followed her out the door.

Not satisfied with officials’ response, a campaign was launched to defund the library by voting down the local property tax and starving it into extinction. Signs started appearing in the town, telling people to oppose the measure.

“50% Millage INCREASE to GROOM our kids? Vote NO on Library!” one sign said, using the word “millage” to refer to the property tax, plus the anti-LGBTQ slur.

Library opponents won, and Patmos went on life-support.

Robert’s donation pushed two GoFundMe campaigns past $245,000, delivering at least another year of library services.

“Libraries are treasures, opening the door to books and stories for all,” Roberts told Bridge Michigan. “Librarians, to me, are the guardians of those stories. I find the idea of librarians — who offer community services beyond reading — facing threats and attacks, a community library facing defunding both appalling and sad.

“It’s an honor for me to stand up for the Patmos Library 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’re short of your goal, please contact me. I’ll make up the rest.”

Patmos Library has 144 Nora Roberts titles in its collection, compared to 90 LGBTQ-themed books on the shelves.

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