LEANDER, Texas (KXAN) — The City of Leander will close the public library Saturday as a “precaution” because it expects demonstrations related to a private “Drag Queen Story Time” event.
The city announced the closure Tuesday in the following post on its website:
Leander Public Library will be closed to the public on Saturday, June 15. While one of the library conference rooms will remain accessible to participants of the Drag Queen Story Time private event, ticket reservations through Open Cathedral are required for guest participation.
On event day, the city will designate areas near the library and manage resources to allow for peaceful assembly outdoors, and vehicle parking will be available in the field just north of library grounds.
Michael Neu, a city spokesman, told KXAN Wednesday that people are expected to gather and demonstrate for and against the event. He said the city, however, has received no direct requests from any groups or organizations to do that. Instead, the city has only heard reports of that happening.
Anna Smith is “very excited” to attend Saturday with three of her children.
“My daughter and I are going to dress up,” Smith said, “and she’s actually curious to see what books we’re going to read. She’s hoping they read one of her favorite books.”
She already talked to them about the possibility of seeing protestors there, but that won’t change their plans.
“They’re a little worried about some of the negative tone with this,” Smith said about her kids, “but they know I’m not going to put them in a situation that’s going to affect them. We’re here to read a story, to listen to a story and connect with people in our community who believe in what we believe in.”
Neu said the parking lot will have marked areas Saturday for demonstrators, and police will be on hand to monitor everything. Police already set up a surveillance stand with a remote camera outside the library so that they can watch whatever might unfold.
Staff members from the city’s Parks and Recreation department, as well as the library director, will also be on hand to open the library to the Drag Queen Story Time attendees. The city will still pay library staff members despite closing the library to the public that day.
The Open Cathedral church in Leander stepped in last month and rented a room at the Leander Public Library to host Drag Queen Story Time when the city decided to cancel its own event. The church is requiring tickets for any families who’d like to attend with their children, but they’re all sold out. The event page states that people or groups without children cannot come into the event.
Pastor Ryan Hart previously told KXAN that the church will conduct a background check on the drag queen selected to read to the crowd, which is policy for any of its events involving children.
Melissa Glatt and her two children will skip the event Saturday.
“It’s not what I believe in,” Glatt said, “and I just don’t want to expose them to something that I don’t think they’re ready to understand.”
She said Wednesday that she questioned if it’s appropriate for her own children.
“I just think this particular topic is a bit extreme,” Glatt said, “and I think some kids might be frightened or even confused because their minds aren’t fully developed to maybe understand.”
The City of Leander canceled the library’s initial event after receiving feedback from the community and starting a review process for future events at the facility. The city launched an online survey to gather more input from people about future programming.
Drag Queen Story Time, organized by the Open Cathedral church, will begin Saturday at 3 p.m. The city is making additional parking available in the field north of the library.