A cultural power-struggle at an Iowa library casts a 'dark cloud' over a small town
The public library in a small Iowa farming town has been embroiled in a monthslong controversy spurred by anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, attempts to censor books with
The public library in a small Iowa farming town has been embroiled in a monthslong controversy spurred by anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, attempts to censor books with progressive and LGBTQ themes and the alleged harassment of LGBTQ staff members.
The situation reached a tipping point last month when the library — a place referred to by some as the “heart of the community” — was forced to close for more than a week after its interim director resigned, saying he felt ostracized for being gay.
It’s indicative of an undercurrent of homophobia that exists in the town among a small portion of its 5,000 residents, according to more than a dozen current and former Vinton residents. Although not representative of the entire community, the controversy has divided it in recent months, racking up national headlines and leaving some LGBTQ residents feeling unsafe and unwelcome.
With efforts to censor LGBTQ books in many communities across the U.S., along with increased threats targeting Drag Queen Story Hour events, the situation in Vinton appears to be a microcosm of a nationwide trend. It also marks the arrival of a new battleground in the culture wars: public libraries.
Vinton Public Library in Vinton, Iowa.Google Maps“This in particular has really put a dark cloud over the community,” said Dan Engledow, a 42-year-old gay man who has lived in Vinton all his life. “There’s a small group of people who have caused lots of problems.”