Cook Memorial library values 'equality, compassion and inclusion,' director writes

  • Cook Memorial Public Library District Director David Archer

      Cook Memorial Public Library District Director David Archer Russell Lissau | Staff Photographer, 2015

  • Cook Memorial Public Library District board President Bonnie Quirke

    Cook Memorial Public Library District board President Bonnie Quirke Daily Herald File Photo

 
 
Updated 6/22/2020 6:36 PM

In response to a controversy swirling around homophobic comments made by Cook Memorial Public Library District board President Bonnie Quirke, the district's director has published a message to the community that declares "equality, compassion and inclusion" are important values for the library and its staff.

Although the message doesn't name Quirke or specifically cite her remarks, Director David Archer on Monday said the missive -- available at cooklib.org -- is a direct response to "recent events involving the board president."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We are honored to serve our diverse community and wholeheartedly embrace the values of equality, compassion and inclusion," the five-paragraph message starts. "We are committed to being a library where our community comes together and marginalized voices are recognized."

Quirke, a board member since 2005 and its president since 2009, was publicly lambasted during last week's library board meeting for a nearly 10-year-old speech to a conservative group in which she accused libraries of promoting "the homosexual agenda." The speech didn't spark trouble until a video of it recently circulated through the Cook Memorial community.

"The library abounds with the homosexual agenda, especially in the children's department," Quirke told the audience.

Quirke, who couldn't be reached for comment Monday, also said "we have abdicated local politics, and the predators have taken over."

Quirke has taken additional heat for some racially inflammatory Facebook posts and for homophobic comments she made to the Daily Herald in a 2013 interview.

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Patrons and fellow library trustees have called on Quirke to resign.

During last week's meeting, Quirke cited her free speech rights and said she's never allowed her personal positions to influence the library.

Archer said he wrote the public message "to remind folks what the library stands for."

The library board will hold a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday to discuss the controversy, officials said. A resolution affirming the district's mission and purpose will be considered.

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