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Ridgeland, library system come to agreement on funding

Ridgeland library
Ridgeland library(WLBT)
Published: Apr. 12, 2022 at 10:57 AM CDT
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RIDGELAND, Miss. (WLBT) - The city of Ridgeland and Madison County Library System have come to an agreement to continue their relationship.

The partnership has been in limbo since earlier this year, when Mayor Gene McGee made the decision to withhold $110,000 from the Ridgeland Public Library because of LGBTQ+ material.

McGee said he made the ultimatum in January after getting complaints about LGBTQ+ books on the shelves.

The Board of Aldermen, for their part, denied that the disagreement was over LGBTQ+ material, saying in part:

There is currently a dispute between the Parties as to whether a valid contract exists. The City is requesting to enter into a new contract that would give the Board the authority to make the contributions.”

One local group took matters into its own hands. The non-profit, Friends of the Ridgeland Library, raised more than $112,000. But workers with the library said that money would only last them through September.

This week, both the city and library system reached a Memorandum of Understanding.

In a joint statement, they say both sides strongly support a diverse library collection “that is consistent with the American Library Association’s Bill of Rights.”

“Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Our libraries are a repository of knowledge and culture, providing far more than access to books,” the statement also reads.

It’s unclear if an agreement was made regarding what material would be displayed at the Ridgeland Library.

John Scanlon, an attorney who represented the city in the case, says the city will not determine what material the library puts on its shelves.

“The city doesn’t have any control of the contents of the library or what they display on the shelves. The new contract says nothing about the city controlling the contents of the library,” Scanlon said.

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