ImagineIF Libraries closed all of its locations Wednesday after employees discovered books in a book return box damaged by a gunshot. Library officials said the incident is believed to be an isolated incident and all branches were open during normal business hours on Thursday.
A statement from ImagineIF Library Director Ashley Cummins and Board Chair Doug Adams said the decision to close all branches was made out of an abundance of caution for staff and patrons. According to Cummins, employees are trained to respond to threats.
“We want to assure you that all ImagineIF staff are well trained to respond to incidents of violent threats and intimidation,” Cummins said. “We work closely with all law enforcement agencies to implement policies and procedures, including weapons and customer conduct. We are also currently installing security cameras and developing policies to protect the health, safety and privacy of our users.
The incident is under investigation by the Kalispell Police Department. The damaged books did not appear to be related to the controversial issues, but the release said library staff and trustees are making safety a priority as they work with Kalispell police to find a solution.
Sergeant Dennis Bain of the Kalispell Police Department said he also believed it was an isolated incident and that their investigation was closed. He said many of the books were left in book return and it looked like someone had used some for target practice and forgotten before donating.
Lune Axelsen, marketing and communications coordinator, said the affected titles include Stephen Coonts’ “The Armageddon File,” Michael Savage’s “Trump’s War,” Eric Van Lustbader’s “The Bourne Initiative,” Will Cochrane’s “An Act of Treason” and “Crown Jewel”. ” by Christopher Reich.
Axelsen said many of the librarians, including Cummins and Assistant Director Sean Anderson, are currently in Missoula at the Montana Library Association conference. They are expected to accept the Pat Williams Intellectual Freedom Award on Friday, which went to Anderson, Collections Services Librarian Kat Wilson, Teen and Adult Services Librarian Starr White and former interim director Martha Furman for their response to recent book problems at the library.
Axelsen said they are tired of the drama surrounding the library, but are happy to reopen the doors to patrons on Thursday.
This story has been updated to include Cummins’ statement and the titles of the damaged books.