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The Campbell County Library Board has four new members after several vacancies

From left to right, Levi Figg, Mickey Loughrey and Giselle Nemitz play at the Montessori School of the Tetons, one potential recipient of child care funding.
Dee Buckstaff
The children's section at Campbell County Public Library in Gillette.

The Campbell County Commission appointed the final board member to the county library board, filling several vacancies since earlier this year due to resignations, term limits, and a desire to not complete another term. This comes as some residents of the community continue to criticize the library for including books on sex education and LGBTQ issues in the children and teens section, which has been a regular fixture of library board and county commission meetings since last July.

Despite the criticism and support the library has received over the last year, Campbell Commissioner Rusty Bell said he’s not concerned that those selected will not do a good job.

“I think they’ll do the best job they can to run the library, to be there for the library director and the staff and operate an efficient library,” said Bell. “I really think they’re all good people.”

Charlie Anderson, who is serving his second term, is the only board member that has not turned over this year. Hollie Stewart, the former board chair, resigned this spring. Other positions became available with the departure of Nancy Stovall, who was term-limited, Miranda Finn, who chose not to seek another term, and Mandy Steward, who is the most recent member to leave, citing something that had come up in her life that wouldn’t allow her to make the library board a priority. Charles Butler, Sage Bear, Chelsie Collier, and Darcy Lyon have all been selected to fill the vacancies.

Library board members are appointed for a three-year term and can serve two terms. They can reapply after sitting out for several years for additional time on the board, pending the approval of the commission.

“We had a large list to choose from and most of those, and most all of those people chose to be put forward to fill the [other] vacancies,” he said.

Bell said this category of people consisted of numerous applicants, of which 16 initially applied earlier this year for two open vacancies.

In May, the commission voted to cut the one percent optional sales tax funding to the library’s youth collection, which amounted to a nearly $42,000 reduction. Bell said that some of that funding was later restored, though it was only to the library branch in Wright. Library Director Teri Lesley stated that the cut would impact children’s summer programs. Commissioner Colleen Faber stated she voted to cut funding, saying the library lacked transparency and wasted taxpayer dollars.

“The funding that was restored was actually to the programming in Wright. It was restored to them, I think around $9,150 or something,” he said. “The other portion, the portion that was for summer programming and youth programs, that was one percent dollars, that was cut to the Gillette branch library.”

Thus far, the library board has not relocated or removed any of the challenged books in the children or teens sections, though Lesley said library staff have relocated a select few titles after concerns were raised from residents.

The first library board meeting with a full board will meet on Monday, Aug. 22 at 4 p.m. at the Campbell County Public Library in Gillette.

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.
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