Quarryville Library faces more funding cuts due to LGBTQ+ books

The beleaguered Quarryville Library is facing another round of funding cuts because of the presence of LGBTQ+ material in its collection.

Last fall, the library was defunded by one of the municipalities it serves, Fulton Township, because it would not remove LGBTQ+ books and materials from its shelves. At the time, local residents came to the library’s defense, including Quarryville native and Olympic skater Johnny Weir. These individuals donated enough money to cover the resulting shortfall, at least for the short term. But the story isn’t ending there.

In late December, Sarah Bower, Quarryville’s interim library director, learned that an East Drumore Township supervisor told a library board member that the township would not be funding the library henceforward because of the LGBTQ+ material in its collection. Last fiscal year, East Drumore’s contribution to the library amounted to $5,500.

Lancaster County’s Quarryville Library is a public library that depends on funding from the state of Pennsylvania and the 10 municipalities it serves. In addition to East Drumore and Fulton Townships, the library also serves Bart, Colerain, Drumore, Eden, Little Britain, Martic and Providence Townships and Quarryville Borough.

In a statement, Bower said, “It’s disheartening. It’s kind of a shame that they are pulling funding or not making donations because of one type of book. We are a public library. We are supposed to have something for everyone because we are here to serve the entire community. There are LGBTQ people in our community, as well as others who are marginalized, and they deserve a library that serves their needs.”

Bower goes on to say that it’s encouraging that so many in the communities Quarryville serves have come forward in support of their library. While there have not been indications of an outpouring of donations similar to when news of the Fulton decision broke, it helps, Bower says, to learn that the conservatives on East Drumore’s board of supervisors do not speak for all of the library’s patrons.

But the facts of finance do not bend. While Fulton’s contribution came in at $1,000 annually, East Drumore’s came in at more than five times that, and its loss will be keenly felt by a public library that has to count its pennies to begin with. Bower cannot rule out that these funding cuts may force the library to cut some of its programs or even staff — and that’s not counting what might happen if any of the other townships Quarryville serves follow Fulton’s and East Drumore’s lead.

At this stage, it is not known if that will happen. 

“There’ve been rumors, but nothing concrete,” Bower said.

How the library and its staff plan to cope with an issue that doesn’t look like it’s going away any time soon, Bower cannot say. So far, the library’s board is standing firmly behind the library and staff. According to Bower, there has been no inkling of pressure from library board members to cave to conservative demands to remove LGBTQ+ material, or to compromise its mission in any way.

In recent years, Lancaster County has become a hotbed of public and school library controversy. Other areas that have recently banned books or adopted policies making it easier to ban books are Eastern Lancaster County, Ephrata, Warwick, Elizabethtown and Hempfield school districts. Another Lancaster public library that faced defunding because of LGBTQ+ material was the Ephrata Public Library, though it was able to negotiate a compromise with the Akron Borough council to reinstate its funding.

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