At our Great Falls City Commission regular meeting on February 28 the Commission voted unanimously to put a levy request by the Great Falls Public Library on a June 6 special election ballot for Great Falls voters to decide.
During the meeting several citizens raised the issue of a ‘Drag Queen Story Hour’ video promoted and sponsored by the GFPL.
In an article written by Jeni Dodd the video was referenced and a link provided. However no video appeared when the link was followed and it looked like the video had been deleted or was no longer available on the library’s YouTube channel.
It was subsequently discovered that the ‘Drag Queen Story Hour’ video and other videos from the GFPL Kids’ Place ‘Family Pride Week 2021’ events and promotion were set to ‘private’ and not available for the public to see.
In her initial in 2/25 email response to a question from me about the timing and purpose of the videos being unavailable for public viewing on the library’s YouTube channel Director McIntyre wrote:
“I’ve been looking into the situation. The video was not removed. As with some other old Library videos, the 2021 Family Pride Week videos were set to private.
We are not exactly sure when that transition was made. They are set back to public for everyone to view if they wish.”
Consequently, because the library is a public resource and all of it’s online content, events, and promotions should be fully available for public viewing and scrutiny, I asked several other questions about the private settings place on the videos in question.
Here is the text of my emailed questions (in bold italics) and GFPL Director Susie McIntyre’s response:
Tryon: “Who originally authorized/requested that the Pride Week 2021 videos, including but not limited to the ‘Drag Queen Story Hour’ video, be set to ‘private’? What is the library policy for setting the viewing status of it’s YouTube video content and who has administrative privileges?“
McIntyre: “The Pride Week 2021 were set to private after a miscommunication. Please see my answer to # 3. I take full responsibility for the videos being moved from public to private.
The Library follows the social media policy of the City of Great Falls (attached). All of the Library Staff who create and post Library videos have administrative privileges, including the privilege to place videos to private. Currently the staff with those administrative privileges are Aaron Kueffler, Sara Kegel, Susie McIntyre and Rae McFadden. We do not a formal policy for when videos should be set to private.
As required by City Ordinance, all Library social media, website content and email communication are archived and available for retrieval if needed.”
Tryon: “When were the videos set from public to private viewing?“
McIntyre: “The Library Pride Week videos were set from public to private viewing on January 27, 2023.
When I first asked staff when the videos were set to private, they couldn’t tell by looking at our YouTube channel when video status was changed. Lanni Klassner determined the exact date of the change by looking at the City’s social media archiving solution, Archive Social.”
Tryon: “Why were the videos set from public to private viewing?“
McIntyre: “After investigation, I determined that the videos were set from public to private after a miscommunication between myself and a staff person. I was invited to provide a presentation for the Great Falls Pachyderm club on January 26th, 2023. After that presentation, I had a conversation with a staff member about my experience at the meeting. I expressed concern about Pachyderm club member attacks on the Library regarding LGBTQ issues. The staff member and I had a conversation about the national trends of some libraries being closed and some librarians receiving death threats over culture war fights centered on LGBTQ+ issues. During the course of that conversation a miscommunication took place. The staff member left the conversation understanding that in the interest of protecting staff and volunteers from threats, I had given permission to set our online Pride materials to private. I left the conversation with the understanding that we were both concerned that a minority of people using national anti-LGBTQ rhetoric were looking to fan a culture war in Great Falls.
I take full responsibility for the videos being moved from public to private.
I was unaware that the videos were set to private until I received the email from Commissioner Tryon on Friday February 24th. As soon as it was brought to my attention that the videos had been set to private, I investigated the issue and then had staff set them back to public so that everyone could view them.”
Tryon: “Were there any other videos other than the Pride Week 2021 videos the set from public to private viewing or from private to public viewing? If so, which ones and why?“
McIntyre: “The Great Falls Public Library YouTube Channel has 7 total videos. They are all public.
We have an unused channel labeled Dewey Falls. We attempted to upload a drone video to YouTube and had many complications. It was set to private and never moved to a promoted Library YouTube Channel.
The GFPL Kids Place YouTube Chanel has 239 videos.
- 4 videos are unlisted. These are drafts who were started and never completed.
- 1 video is processing. We do not understand why this video is stuck and we have been unable to get it changed.
- 1 video is in draft. We are working on this video.
- 6 videos are private.
- Unedited-Maybe (a flawed video that isn’t appropriate for the public—sound and editing issues)
- Make Your Own Mask for Kids and Teens (a video that is no longer relevant)
- Census ST-1st part (a video that is no longer relevant)
- Census ST-End (a video that is no longer relevant)
- WYBP2133 (a video that is no longer relevant)
- Something Happened In Our Town (a video that is no longer relevant)”