KALISPELL, MONT. — Another resignation after controversy rocked Kalispell’s ImagineIF Library. This time it’s a member of the state library commission.
On Feb. 9, longtime Montana State Library Commissioner Bruce Newell resigned.
Newell shared a letter with the statewide library community addressing the reasons he decided to resign.
"Either I had to follow my conscience, or I was going to potentially put the state library in an awkward position," said Newell.
Newell was referring to his decision to donate to and support the recently founded group called the Flathead County Library Alliance that aims to hold the library’s board of trustees accountable and to preserve the library.
"This kind of loss of focus on the value of libraries could spread, and I'm heartbroken about ImagineIF, but it would kill me to see any other libraries in the state have to go through what ImagineIF has gone through," said Newell.
The FCLA began as a group of concerned citizens who didn't like the way the board of trustees was handling issues brought to the library. The group has grown to more than 600 members.
"It truly goes so far beyond just one issue of stagnant funding or books ban or inexperience. We are talking about the excellence of a community pillar being threatened. Our library is critical," said Laurel Ekern, a member of the FCLA Steering Committee.
Newell said he doesn't plan on leaving the library scene altogether but will continue to advocate for good library service for every community in the state.
“While there are clearly differences in perspective among ImagineIF board members, and I don’t wish to assign individual blame, I am heartbroken at how rapidly the ImagineIF board, as a whole, has lost the trust it enjoyed for decades,” he said.
We reached out to the ImagineIF board of trustees but haven't heard back from them.
You can read Newell's full letter of resignation below: