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Montana state library commissioner resigns over situation at Flathead County library

A member of the commission that sets state library policy and funding priorities is resigning over controversial decisions within Flathead County’s ImagineIF Library system.

Bruce Newell
Bruce Newell

Montana State Library Commission Vice-Chair Bruce Newell, who has served since 2019, announced his immediate resignation at the end of Wednesday’s meeting, citing turmoil within the library system.

Cuts to salaries, requests to remove LGBTQ books and low morale among staff have been piling up within ImagineIf and its trustee board.

“What brought this to a head is basically I’ve been watching the events up in the Flathead and I’ve been very, very concerned about that,” he said, adding he can no longer serve impartially on the commission because of his support for a citizens’ advocacy group that formed to hold library trustees accountable.

In a statement to YPR, state library commissioner and Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Artzen wrote that Bruce "has aided me in my role on the Montana State Library Commission for the past 5 years. I applaud his compassion for supporting community libraries as well as literacy for all ages and abilities. I wish him all the best.”

The ACLU of Montana said Fridayit’s investigating the censorship within the ImagineIf library system.

Kayla writes about energy policy, the oil and gas industry and new electricity developments.