A Big Win in Ridgeland, MS
After a stalemate of almost 3 months, the City of Ridgeland, MS. has agreed to a revised contract for library services with MCLS and a Memorandum of Understanding.
Previously, Ridgeland Mayor Gene McGee threatened to withhold $110,000 in funding from the Madison County Public Library System allegedly on the basis of his personal religious beliefs and he demanded that the system initiate a purge of LGBTQ+ books before his office releases the money. He explained his opposition to what he called ‘homosexual materials’ in the library, that it went against his Christian beliefs, and that he would not release the money as long as the materials were there. The Mayor went on to say that the library can serve whoever they wanted, but that he only serves the great Lord above.
Through the EveryLibrary Institute's fundraising platform at fundlibraries.org, the Friends of the Ridgeland Library (FORL) were able to raise over $110,000, thanks in large part to the Furry Community.
Help us support more libraries like Ridgeland with a $5 donation today!
Through these donations, the Friends were able to give an emergency donation to the Madison County Library System in order to replace 1st and 2nd quarter funding withheld by Ridgeland Mayor Gene. The Friends were able to meet this emergency only because of the generosity and concern of more than 2,500 people who donated over $110,000.
Ridgeland Friends President Teresa Gerald sent the following note of thanks:
"Your support, time, energy, and advice were miracles for us. Is there a way for you to let the people who donated to our emergency funding campaign know the outcome of the situation? I would appreciate it and again want to include my sincere thank you to each of them for their generosity, concern, and support. Thanks again so much for all you've done for us."
Now that they expect that the city will pay the funding they owe for the first and second quarters and going forward as well, the money will be used for books, materials, and programming to enhance the library’s existing collection and activities.
The following Statement was released on April 11, 2022:
JOINT STATEMENT REGARDING THE MCLS & THE CITY OF RIDGELAND LIBRARY
Ridgeland, MS — We are pleased to announce that the longstanding relationship between the City of Ridgeland and the Madison County Library System (MCLS) will continue. Both parties have reached an agreement concerning matters over the Ridgeland Library Branch. Earlier this week the Memorandum of Understanding was adopted by and between the City of Ridgeland and the MCLS.
Mayor Gene McGee, City of Ridgeland Board of Aldermen and the MCLS Board of Trustees 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 City of Ridgeland held a special meeting tonight [Monday, April 11] to formally adopt the Memorandum of Understanding pertaining to this matter and are happy a resolution has been found. The City of Ridgeland’s constituents can continue to enjoy and treasure the library that is a special place within our community.
Gene McGee, Mayor of Ridgeland Board of Trustees
City of Ridgeland Board of Aldermen Madison County Library System
Thank you to everyone who supported the Library in Ridgeland and who stood up for open access and a welcoming library. It is only by working together to defend our libraries that we can ensure they are available for everyone. If you would like to see EveryLibrary continue this valuable and important work, please donate today.