The staff at an Idaho public library spends most days helping patrons find books they need. But lately, librarians have had to become amateur sleuths – because someone keeps hiding books to prevent others from reading them.
Many of the titles that have gone missing in Coeur d’Alene are critical of President Donald Trump. And books on LGBTQ issues, human rights, immigration and women’s suffrage have been squirreled away in the 38,000 square foot building, library director Bette Ammon said.
Ammon said about 20 books have disappeared, some more than once.
“A gun rights book, we just found it last week behind the O’s in the fiction [section] on the bottom shelf behind a bunch of books,” Ammon told CNN.
She added that the fiction section is in an out-of-the-way corner.
‘Your liberal angst gives me great pleasure’
The staff started noticing something strange in summer 2018, when reserved books weren’t where they were supposed to be.
Then came a comment card from someone claiming to be hiding them, Ammon said.
“I noticed a large volume of Books attacking our President. 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. Your liberal angst gives me great pleasure,” the card said.
Ammon said staff members trying to find who’s responsible. They tried putting up a web camera but quickly realized they didn’t have time to watch the footage.
“I’d rather we’re helping some kid find a book to read than do that,” Ammon said.
She said police are aware of the problem and the person could be charged with trespassing if they ever figure out who it is.
A librarian flew his drone through the library to search.
“Those are only the tops of the stacks, so we couldn’t see the shelves down below, but it was kind of fun to do that,” Ammon said.
Support is coming from all over
If the book hider’s goal is to get those titles out of the library, Ammon said it hasn’t worked because they’ve had to buy replacements to meet user demand.
“Right now, we have three copies of ‘Fire and Fury’ by Michael Wolff. We only would have ever bought one,” she said. “We have three copies of the April Ryan book and we would have only bought one of those.”
Veteran sportswriter Rick Reilly’s book “Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump,” which claims the president regularly cheats on the links, has vanished multiple times.
Reilly tweeted that he plans to visit the Coeur d’Alene library on November 21 and bring 10 copies of his book.
Ammon said Reilly planned to hide them around the library for patrons to find.
She said people from all over the world have offered to donate books and money in response to the story.
“People want to be able to read what they want to read and don’t want others to control them,” Ammon said.
The library considers community suggestions when it decides what books to buy, and Ammon said she urged the book hider to suggest what should be added to the collection.
She has had no response.