Some­one keeps hid­ing the anti-Trump books at a north­ern Idaho li­brary

The Peterborough Examiner - - CANADA & WORLD - MIKE BAKER

COEUR D’ALENE, IDAHO — From her of­fice, Bette Am­mon finds her­self peer­ing through a win­dow to watch pa­trons mov­ing through the Coeur d’Alene li­brary’s non-fic­tion stacks. Some­one has been hid­ing books — specif­i­cally, those that ex­plore pol­i­tics through a pro­gres­sive lens or crit­i­cize U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

“I am go­ing to con­tinue hid­ing these books in the most ob­scure places I can find to keep this pro­pa­ganda out of the hands of young minds,” the mys­tery book re­lo­ca­tor wrote in a note left for Am­mon, the li­brary direc­tor, in the fa­cil­ity’s com­ment box. “Your lib­eral angst gives me great plea­sure.”

For decades, Coeur d’Alene has nav­i­gated a del­i­cate po­lit­i­cal land­scape in north­ern Idaho, a con­ser­va­tive cor­ner of the coun­try.

While none of the books ap­pear to have been stolen, some have been hid­den in ways that made it nearly im­pos­si­ble to find them. They have been filed in the wrong sec­tions, hid­den be­hind nov­els, or shelved with the spine fac­ing in­ward. Am­mon said she and other work­ers have hunches about the cul­prit’s iden­tity, but have yet to catch any­one in the act.

The li­brary’s first bat­tle over miss­ing books be­gan in the 1980s, the fall­out from con­flicts with a group of white su­prem­a­cists who had set­tled in the re­gion. The lat­est wave of dis­ap­pear­ances started in 2018.

Sev­eral books crit­i­cal of Trump have re­cently been tar­geted, in­clud­ing “Fire and Fury: In­side the Trump White House,” “Shade: A Tale of Two Pres­i­dents” and “Whose Boat is This Boat?”

The li­brary can­not af­ford a full sur­veil­lance video sys­tem, but one staff mem­ber tried set­ting up an or­di­nary we­b­cam. The over­whelm­ing amount of footage made that un­ten­able. Another staff mem­ber brought in a drone to fly over stacks to see if there were books hid­den out of reach. Noth­ing was spot­ted.

Through it all, Am­mon said, the li­brary has man­aged to main­tain the di­ver­sity of its shelves. In the non-fic­tion stacks, a book by Al Franken, the for­mer Demo­cratic sen­a­tor, sits right next to one by Newt Gin­grich, the for­mer Repub­li­can con­gress­man.

“The Dewey dec­i­mal sys­tem is a great equal­izer,” Am­mon said.

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