WLBT reports that Mayor Gene McGee of Ridgeland claimed library goers complained about three children’s books and one book for adults, all of which either referenced the community or featured themes or characters, according to executive director Tonya Johnson. The mayor did not confirm to the station that the fund withholding was due to books surrounding the LGBTQ+ community, but did say Ridgeland residents had complained about the library.
“Madison County Library System has earned a strong reputation for award-winning, best in the state library service because of the outstanding services, programming, and collection of library materials it provides for all the residents of Madison County,” the Madison County Library System wrote in a statement on its website. “As such, we remain committed to excellence in all aspects of public service, which means that everyone can depend on us for their informational needs. All members of our community are represented and welcome in our libraries.”
Jason McCarty, Capital City Pride executive director, told the station that the he believes the library is a “safe space” where “kids, teens, and adults can go to escape the world and dive into a great book and learn new things,” and that there’s a procedure for books that people may not like. That procedure includes filling out an application, and that the mayor seemingly wasn’t aware of the review process.
Resident Maggie Bonds, a mother of two, added that she felt the move was promoting “discrimination, hate, and intolerance” against the LGBTQ+ community.
“I want my daughters to have books that represent them,” she said. “To educate them about things they don’t understand and to help me discuss difficult subjects.”
The library system also added that its mission is “to provide library resources and services necessary to meet the evolving informational, recreational, and cultural needs of the public, thus enhancing individual and community life,” adding that its inventory is “for people of all ages, races, gender identities/expressions, and orientations.”
“Our books are not only a mirror to reflect our community but a window into different worlds and different experiences that enable us to learn,” the statement read. “Our materials are available for all. Censorship has no place here in Madison County Library System. Our library is for everyone.”