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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

‘Banned Books’ fundraiser from this Idaho library foundation goes viral after TikTok video

By Rachel Spacek Idaho Statesman

It’s been a tough year for libraries in Idaho, which faced s://” target=”_blank”>contentious public debates, budget cuts and attention from local political groups over some library books people deemed inappropriate for children.

But a social media post has lifted the spirits of some supporters of one local library system.

The Meridian Library Foundation, an organization that raises funds to support the Meridian Library District, began selling T-shirts that said “Read Banned Books” and featured dozens of titles of banned books. The shirts cost $36 each with proceeds supporting the new Meridian Library at Orchard Park.

Little did the foundation know that a video, posted by local TikTokker @katiemreads to her 15,000 followers, would make the shirts go viral.

“This year, all year a group of terrible people have been going to library board meetings to try to get them to ban certain library material…” said Katie Marshall in her TikTok video. “This is my library shirt for the year.”

Marshall, known as a BookTokker, a TikTok user who posts about books, posted her video on Tuesday, and within 24 hours the Meridian Library Foundation received $30,000 in donations, according to Eryn Turner, executive director of the foundation.

The video had more than 110,300 views and 1,169 shares, according to TikTok.

“It has been a difficult year for libraries, including our own; we truly believe the support of this one little campaign in Meridian, Idaho, is a reflection of excellent library staff and services across the country, and a statement of support for our freedom to read,” Turner said Thursday in an email to the Idaho Statesman.

Turner wrote that because of the donations, the foundation has been able to fund the nearly an entire new library installation aimed to promote early literacy and library accessibility.

The Orchard Library, at Linder Road and Chinden Boulevard, is scheduled to open early next year, according to the Meridian Library District website.

“I stepped into the library today at Cherry Lane, and staff members are buzzing,” Turner wrote. “They’re feeling supported from all corners of the country and excited that this foundation fundraiser will help support our community in new and innovative ways.”

In August, the library district board held a meeting attend by hundreds after the Idaho Liberty Dogs posted a flyer online calling residents to the meeting to protest “smut filled pornography” at the library. The group mobilized against COVID-19 public health measures in 2020 and counterprotested in June against abortion rights activists and against a homeless demonstration near the Capitol in January.

“I was born and raised in Meridian, and our library made me the reader I am today,” Marshall said in an email to the Statesman. “I’m incredibly proud I was able to help them raise funds, so that they can continue to support this community and protect our right to read what we want.”