Jamie Brambley, Fulton County Library Director, asked for an additional $3,000 in funding. The library has received $12,000 since 2016, only after their budget had been cut in 2010 due to recession era cutbacks, according to The Washington Post. It seemed like a simple idea, get the library back to the full funding it had before the recession.
Unfortunately, two of the three county commissioners voted against the expansion of the library’s budget. Although budget requests often get turned by local officials for a variety of reasons, these two commissioners had no trouble identifying why they chose not to approve the funding.
These two local officials, Randy Bunch and Stuart Ulsh, chose to deny the request because the library had agreed to host an LGBTQ+ support group for their community. The group hadn’t even hosted any meetings yet, but Bunch and Ulsh would prefer to keep it that way.
But not only did they deny the funding, Bunch and Ulsh chose to make their opinion quite clear. The two referred to the LGBTQ+ community as a “hate group” and Bunch stated in the meeting, “If we support them, we have to support Proud Boys and Black Lives Matter”.
Bunch continued his thoughts by claiming “I don’t feel where taxpayers’ money is given that stuff like that should go on. None of it. Not the LGBTQ, Proud Boys, Ku Klux Klan — I don’t agree with any of that.”. This was said after he was asked to clarify his original comments.
When asked by The Fulton County News why he chose to deny funding, Ulsh responded “I don’t agree with any organization that gets a group together that has an agenda behind it”. Not like the library itself has an agenda to help people find resources, educate people of all ages, and build community.
When citizens found out about not only the budget denial but the comments made by their officials, they sprung into action. Sarah Cutchell, a nurse in Fulton County, started a Facebook fundraiser to help the library raise their $3,000. In just a few days, the fundraiser had raised over $10,000.
But, Sarah Cutchell was not the only local resident to take action. Emily Best, who lives in a neighboring county, began a GoFundMe page that has already raised over $30,000 for the library. Together, these two ladies and everyone that donated, helped the library secure more than ten times what they originally asked for.
While talking to The Washington Post, Brambley stated, “I really am thankful for these two patrons and women in the community who went above and beyond to try and organize these fundraisers on behalf of the library. I think in the end, it’s brought the community together behind tolerance and kindness.”
Although Brambley isn’t sure exactly what project to take on with this new influx of funding, but she has several ideas. Updating the library computers, creating a makerspace for patrons, and adding to the library’s collection of diverse books are all being considered.
Regardless, Brambley told The Washington Post that “We hope that the county commissioners will see what we are doing with the funds and how much more we can do for the county if we had a stable source of reliable funding.”
Featured Image via Good Housekeeping