JAMESTOWN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Voters have again rejected a millage that covers the bulk of the budget for the Patmos Library in Jamestown Township, casting its future into serious doubt.
The millage renewal failed 55.8% to 44.2%.
It accounts for about 85% of the library’s annual budget, which works out to about $200,000. Michigan law prevents the millage from going before voters again this year. Without it, the library’s fate seems grim.
In August, the funding measure failed by about 760 votes, with some people in the community upset that the library contains books dealing with LGBTQ issues. There are about 90 such items out of a total of 67,000 books. Yard signs opposing the millage accused the library of promoting pornographic books and “grooming” young children.
“These are very challenging times for libraries in general and there is a huge increase in a number of materials that have been challenged,” Carol Dawe of the Lakeland Library Cooperative, which includes Patmos Library, told News 8 last week.
The August vote drew national attention — famous romance novelist Nora Roberts donated $50,000 to the library after the millage failed to keep its doors open.
“We’re very upset that our community doesn’t want to support the library. We’re Americans. We recognize freedom of speech,” library patron and retired Christian school teacher Jay Milkamp told News 8 Wednesday. “There’s 67,000 books in this library, I read. Ninety of them are objectionable. I think that’s no reason to vote down the millage.”
He added he would not demand the books be removed from the library, even if he didn’t approve of them and wouldn’t check them out.
Ria Faber said the LGBTQ-related books do not reflect Jamestown’s conservative values and she didn’t want them in the library.
“It should not be something that children can pick up accidentally and bring home and then parents are surprised by what they see in the book,” she said.
But as a former librarian, Faber voted yes on the millage. She instead urged people to elect conservatives to the library board so they would be in charge of book selection.
Three of the library’s six Board of Trustees positions were on the ballot. Seven people ran in a race that the county clerk said had been uncontested in recent history.
Kathy VanZandbergen, Betty Besteman and Alaina Kwiatkowski were elected to fill those seats. VanZandbergen was an incumbent. The other incumbent who ran, Angela Rodenhouse, was not reelected. Besteman and Kwiatkowski are conservative candidates.
The current board president did not respond to News 8’s requests for comment Wednesday.
About 10,000 people live in Jamestown.
—News 8’s Susan Samples contributed to this report.