Home>Articles>Washoe County Commissioners Appoint Interim Library Board Trustee 

Washoe County commissioners listen to speakers during public comment before appointing an interim trustee to the county's library board on March 19, 2024. (Photo: Ariel Van Cleve for The Nevada Globe)

Washoe County Commissioners Appoint Interim Library Board Trustee 

Former teacher and school librarian Tami Ruf was unanimously appointed from a pool of 87 applicants who were vying for the position

By Ariel Van Cleve, March 20, 2024 11:16 am

Washoe County commissioners unanimously voted to appoint Tami M. Ruf to fill a vacancy on the county’s Library Board of Trustees. The appointment followed public comments from both applicants advertising themselves for the position and from concerned citizens alike. 

During general public comment, Bruce Parks, the chairman of the Washoe County Republican Party, decried what he saw as the commission’s propensity to make liberal appointments and told commissioners, “When you consider an appointment to this library board and for all future appointments, please consider diversity of voices, diversity of opinions, diversity of outlook. It’ll make the county better, I promise you.”

Tami Ruf was appointed to serve on the Washoe County Library Board of Trustees. (Photo: Ariel Van Cleve for The Nevada Globe)

Certain speakers, however, directly addressed the ongoing controversy involving both county and school libraries over certain books available in their collections which critics find to be inappropriate for children but which supporters find inclusive of vulnerable communities. 

Nathan Robison stated his opinion on the issue before the board, saying, “I’m thinking of the many LGBTQ kids who do not have it as easy as mine do—who are neurodivergent, or hard to deal with, or just weird; and they can have a really hard time in school. I think that those kids have the school, their friends, and institutions like the library to help them understand themselves and the world they live in; and they may not have other resources.” 

He soon after continued, “There’s a movement out there to pretend, I think, maybe wish, maybe even force these type of kids not to exist. I think we should resist that. Library censorship is abhorrent in a free society. . . .”

Alanna Fitzgerald spoke in favor of inclusive libraries during public comment. (Photo: Ariel Van Cleve for The Nevada Globe)

Likewise, Alanna Fitzgerald issued her support for inclusivity by saying that the libraries “should continue to be a safe and comforting place that embraces all people instead of trying to make any groups feel unwelcome or excluded in the books and other materials that are kept on the shelves and available.”

Another constituent, however, defended those critical of the controversial library books. 

“Nobody is trying to keep anybody out of the library,” declared Janet Butcher. “People are asking to have sexual books with pictures. They want their kids to be exposed to that? Buy the d— books. Expose your kids, but it doesn’t need to be at eye level for children. And so, when they keep talking about this book banning thing, it’s a lie. Nobody is trying to ban books—except for, I think, Huckleberry Finn got banned, Gone with the Wind got banned, by the library association; but, we’re just asking for responsibility.” 

After all public comments regarding the library board appointment had ended, commissioners ultimately nominated former teacher and school librarian Tami M. Ruf from the pool of 87 applicants who were vying for the position. The commissioners subsequently awarded her the seat on the library board in a unanimous vote. 

Following her confirmation, Tami Ruf spoke with The Nevada Globe and addressed the library book dispute. 

“You know, I’ve been coming to the meetings for several months now; and I know that there are people who have strong feelings about books on both sides of the aisle. . . . So, I just welcome dialogue and will continue the dialogue; and, you know, I will listen with open ears and, you know, really work to support the library and continue its mission to involve everyone in our community with the programs that they provide.” 

Tami Ruf will serve on the library board through the month of June 2025. The Washoe County Library Board of Trustees is scheduled to meet next on April 17. 

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