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Protect Our GarCo Libraries movement goes digital

A group of Garfield County residents recently launched a Facebook page called Protect Our GARCO Libraries. KDNK’s Amy Hadden Marsh sat down with Carole O’Brien, spokesperson for the group, to find out more.  

The goal of Protect Our GARCO Libraries (POGCL), a new, private Facebook page, is to convince the Garfield County Commissioners to ease up on the Garfield County Public Library District. New Castle resident Carole O’Brien speaks for the group.

"Hopefully, we will show enough community support for the library that they will understand this is a lost cause on their part. There are so many things in this county they need to be worried about:Housing, transportation, climate, water, I could go on and on. Why have they chosen this hill?"

The “hill” O’Brien is talking about started with complaints last year about certain Japanese Manga graphic novels in the Silt Library. Several western Garfield County residents have been vocal about what they consider to be pornographic material in the books, and have attended library board and Garfield County Commissioner meetings to demand that the books be removed, reshelved, locked up or burned.
O’Brien said that the county commissioners appear sympathetic to the complaints… 

“By agreeing that the books are pornographic and by responding to some of the comments of the protestors by saying ‘God bless.’”

Here’s Commissioner Mike Samson.

"What I would advise you is to continue your education of the residents of Garfield County as to what is happening within the library system."

Samson was responding to John Lepkowski, a vocal opponent of  the Manga books and the library board in general, at the Jan. 2nd regular Garfield County Commissioners’ meeting.

"If you will do research, you will find out that the American Library Association is not a good deal and it is working very hard throughout the United States of America and this state and, evidently, right here in this county to promote such filth and garbage."

The Protect Our GARCO Libraries group is also concerned about a resolution of disapproval of the library board's policy regulating the Manga books, signed by the county commissioners last fall. And, the commissioners’ sudden move in February to take control of the appointment process for the library board of trustees. 
Seventeen Garfield County residents applied for a vacant position on the library board for the Rifle area. O’Brien was one of them. But, she and several others were recently removed from consideration because they live outside the 81650 Rifle zip code.
The commissioners and library board president Adrian Rippy-Sheehy will interview candidates on Tuesday April 30 at 1pm at the County Administration building in Glenwood Springs. The meeting is open to the public. 
O’Brien encourages people to attend. 

"The value that the libraries give to this community cannot be measured in dollars and cents. It's measured in community spirit. It's measured in intellectual freedom, in the happiness of children coming to story hour. Those are the things that the library is about so much more than books. It's about the spirit and soul of a community in a lot of ways"

Garfield County Commissioners expect to make a decision about the board appointee on May 6 during their regular meeting.

More of this story is available in the Sopris Sun. 

Amy Hadden Marsh’s reporting goes back to 1990 and includes magazine, radio, newspaper and online work. She has previously served as reporter and news director for KDNK Community Radio, earning Edward R. Murrow and Colorado Broadcasters Association awards for her work. She also writes for Aspen Journalism and received a Society of Professional Journalists’ Top of the Rockies award in 2023 for a story on the Uinta Basin Railway. Her photography has also won awards. She holds a Masters in Investigative Journalism from Regis University.