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New York Library Receives Bomb Threat After Drag Story Hour

Woodstock Public Library

On the morning of Sunday, June 9, Woodstock (N.Y.) Public Library received a bomb threat via email. The library had hosted a drag story hour the day before.

The email arrived as the town prepared to host its first LGBTQ Pride parade and celebration later in the day. The email referenced the drag story hour and threatened to kill the email recipient, who is a library employee, and "your drag queens," director Ivy Gocker said.

"The fact that we had just had (a drag story hour), and it was targeted to a specific staff member did make it seem like wherever they are it seems like there's an actual person behind this because they seem to be working from some relevant information. But it's impossible for us to tell," Gocker said.

The library is closed to the public on Sundays, but an Alcoholics Anonymous group that uses the facility on Sundays was evacuated as a safety precaution.

Police cordoned off the library and searched the premises, but no suspicious materials were found. No arrests have been made in connection with the threat. The library reopened as usual on Monday.

Gocker said the drag story itself "was wonderful" with "a great turnout." She said the threat will not deter the library from holding future drag story hours.

"The community has indicated to us pretty clearly that they like this kind of programming and that's what we're here to do, serve the community," she said. "We'll keep doing what we do."

The bomb threat at Woodstock Public Library is the latest in a disturbing string of threats and other incidents of violence directed at libraries and librarians, several of which occurred this past week.

On June 8, Seward (Alaska) Community Library and Museum was evacuated after a caller threatened to bomb the building in response to a Pride-themed event. And in Newberg, Oregon, a Pride flag on display at Newberg Public Library was reportedly shot at with a pellet gun on June 5.

In September 2023, a bomb threat was sent via email to a library worker at Chicago Public Library's Harold Washington Library. It was one of several threats received by Chicago-area libraries that day. And in January of this year, several libraries in Minnesota received bomb threats, as well.

In response to these threats, the Public Library Association and the American Library Association compiled a range of resources and knowledge to help library workers and patrons stay safe and prepared. 

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