Media coverage of the recent drag queen story hour programs provided by the Spokane Public Library has surfaced the ongoing confusion between the Spokane Public Library and the Spokane County Library District.
Spokane Public Library serves the residents of the city of Spokane. The Spokane County Library District is a separate system made up of 11 libraries serving the residents of unincorporated Spokane County and the affiliated cities and towns of Cheney, Deer Park, Fairfield, Latah, Medical Lake, Millwood, Rockford, Spangle, Spokane Valley, Waverly and Airway Heights. Similar to neighboring school districts or fire districts, the functions of the two library systems are comparable. However, funding, oversight and programs are wholly separate and distinct.
We appreciate our neighboring library system for the many different resources and services they provide to city of Spokane residents. However, Spokane County Library District has received comments about the drag queen story hour programs that have confused the two library systems and mistakenly connected the city library’s programs to our library district’s upcoming maintenance and operations levy proposition on the Aug. 6 primary ballot. Spokane County Library District is not hosting any drag queen story hour programs.
But rather than talk about what we are not doing, we want to emphasize what Spokane County Library District is doing. The focus of our early literacy programs such as storytime is on preparing children for kindergarten by introducing the skills children need for learning: recognizing the alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes and developing an array of social skills needed to prepare them for educational success. With a recent study released by Women Helping Women reporting that 38% of Spokane County children were not kindergarten ready, our emphasis in this area seeks to lower that number. Our storytimes are conducted by trained staff and are based on a child’s development according to age.
Public libraries are for everyone. Spokane County Library District endeavors to provide resources that are representative of the views of all of our community members. The county libraries’ responsibility is to provide free and open access to those resources in as apolitical a setting as possible. For the public, their responsibility is to self-determine what resources are right for themselves and for their children.
And the county libraries also defend that right to self-determination. Only you get to decide what resources are best for you; no one else gets to make that decision for you. The county libraries also recognize the diversity of viewpoints among the communities we serve. If we have resources in our collection that both affirm and challenge an opinion or worldview, we are meeting our mission. We are not an advocate of any viewpoint, but are committed to facilitating access to knowledge with equity, respect and professionalism.
So while Spokane County Library District is not going to host a drag queen story hour, our message is this: Whether you perform in, support, oppose or have no opinion regarding drag queen story hour, you are welcome at the county libraries. And we will do our level best to help you find the resources you need to answer your questions, whether you are a job seeker looking to gain work-ready skills, an entrepreneur launching a new business, a teen wanting to explore new technologies or a reader of any age looking for a good book.
The county libraries invite you to visit one of our libraries or our website (scld.org) to see the programs, resources, and services we offer. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.
The Spokane County Library District, www.scld.org, serves more than 279,000 residents in Spokane County and surrounding cities.
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