Tweets that Jeffco library deleted after an elected official complained: Muslim authors, women’s healthcare, Hillary Clinton, Russia, Meryl Streep

Pam Nissler, the executive director of the library system, said that while this is her first Twitter tempest, she has faced plenty of heat before over library book selections.

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A tweet deleted by Jefferson County Public Library, as captured in a constituent complaint. (Courtesy Jefferson County Public Library)

The Jefferson County Public Library deleted more than a dozen Twitter posts after Commissioner Don Rosier relayed a constituent’s concerns that the social-media account was politically biased, library officials confirmed.

Among the posts:

  • “Whether secular or religious, these 14 novels about Muslim life shouldn’t be missed …”
  • “Facts are facts. Find accurate, up-to-date ones about current events using our awesome databases:”
  • “Want more information on women’s healthcare reform? Here’s 9 books that will take you beyond the headlines:”
  • Numerous tweets saying “We believe in #science too!” next to a gif of Hillary Clinton saying “I believe in science,” with a link to a science and engineering competition for girls
  • “Books that show readers how to deal with the inevitable chaos and injustice swirling around us”
  • A James Baldwin quote
  • A reading list from Madonna
  • Barack Obama’s reading list
  • A gif of Meryl Streep
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A tweet deleted by Jefferson County Public Library, as captured in a constituent complaint. (Courtesy Jefferson County Public Library)

The library deleted about 20 tweets of the roughly 500 that it has posted since the beginning of the year, according to library spokeswoman Rebecca Winning.

“In a normal environment, no one would bat an eyelash,” she said. But a tense political environment, she argued, elevated concerns that the library was “promoting a political point of view.”

For example, the library on Jan. 20 posted President Barack Obama’s reading list, but not the newly inaugurated President Donald Trump’s reading list.

The deletions were largely made based on the specifics of the complaint, Winning said.

“They’re big topics of the day,” she said when I asked about what made Muslim authors and women’s healthcare inherently political.

A tweet deleted by Jefferson County Public Library, as captured in a constituent complaint. (Courtesy Jefferson County Public Library)
A tweet deleted by Jefferson County Public Library, as captured in a constituent complaint. (Courtesy Jefferson County Public Library)

“If they had been standalone, we wouldn’t have batted an eyelash,” she said. But when they were “grouped” in the complaint, it became more apparent how they could be perceived as political, she said.

She said that the library has “counseled” the employee who made the postings, and that it wouldn’t back away from topical issues.

“It’s not like we’re never going to talk about women’s healthcare, it’s not like we’re never going to talk about immigration,” Winning said.

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A tweet deleted by Jefferson County Public Library, as captured in a constituent complaint. (Courtesy Jefferson County Public Library)

Pam Nissler, the executive director of the library system, said that while this is her first Twitter tempest, she has faced plenty of heat before over library book selections. In the future, she might have library staff encourage people to go to the library rather than trying to encapsulate complex topics on social media, she said.

“I think what I’ve learned from this is that the best way to provide a balanced viewpoint is to direct people to the library itself or the library online, where you don’t have to try to discuss an issue in 140 characters,” she said.

“We say, ‘Do you want to know more about the argument for vaccinations causing autism. Come to the library, we have information and you decide.'”

I reached out to Rosier earlier this week for comment but haven’t heard back. Rosier has said he was “shocked and appalled” by the tweets in question, which he described as promoting a “one-sided political view,” according to The Denver Post.

The library officials said that all their correspondence with Rosier happened through email, that there was no “political pressure,” and that Rosier followed standard operating procedure in relaying the complaint.

The library has about 3,800 followers on Twitter.

The rest of the deleted tweets, as provided in a complaint letter to the library:

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Andrew Kenney

Author: Andrew Kenney

Andrew Kenney writes about public spaces, Denver phenomena and whatever else. He previously worked for six years as a reporter at The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. His most prized possession is his collection of bizarre voicemail. Leave him one at 303-502-2803, or email akenney@denverite.com.