Drag Queen Story Hour preps

Greenville County deputies have set up a perimeter around the parking lot of Five Forks Branch Library in Greenville ahead of the scheduled "Drag Queen Story Hour." (Feb. 17, 2019/ FOX Carolina)

GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina)- Two longtime Greenville County Library employees have released statements on why they are no longer working there. 

FIVE FORKS LIBRARY BRANCH 

Jonathan Newton was formerly the branch manager at the Five Forks Branch Library in Simpsonvile. The branch was the site where a group hosted the controversial “Drag Queen Story Hour” and another group hosted a protest event outside the building in February.

The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office had a large presence at the event to provide security and maintain safety. The agency estimated the cost of their involvement to be $48,000.

On March 28, Newton released this statement about his termination:

The past week has been very hard for me. Up until last Tuesday, I had worked for the Greenville County Library System for over seventeen years, most recently as the manager of the Five Forks branch. To be clear, I love the mission of the organization, the work, the people I met, the people I worked with, and the people I served. All I ever wanted was to have a positive impact on my community and do my job to the best of my ability. That's what I tried to do every day, including the day of the Drag Queen Story Hour. That’s also why, last Tuesday, I was surprised to be called into a meeting with the executive director of the Library System and forced out of my job.

Since my termination, I have received a lot of notes and messages from people in Greenville and I’m very appreciative. I am also grateful to those who have had the courage to speak up publicly about my job and the overall situation at the Library. The Library is an important institution for all citizens of Greenville County, and I am hopeful that it will be an inviting place that reflects the wonderful qualities of those who serve it.

Thank you,

Jonathan

Newton initially posted on Facebook that he “Left his job at the Greenville County Library System” earlier this month.

Newton’s wife, Natalie, posted this comment under the former librarian’s status update:

“I’m so proud of my husband and admire him for his courage and unbreakable spirit. He worked for GCLS for 17 years. It was a system he was and still is proud of in most ways. As times often have habit of becoming stressful he did not let that crush him or change what he believes in as a librarian. He is the type of man who worked often well into the night and on his weekends. Fighting for what he knew was right, and doing his best to promote with all his heart the greater ideals he believes in as a librarian, manager/mentor, and dedicated advocate for all libraries. I always told my husband it is rare that people find the career they want and love, and I know he will find a work home that will welcome that passion and excitement. He has a gave a lot of his time, sweat, even tears to his career there. Not because he had to, but because he loved everything about his job, his coworkers, working with the public, and all the important services that public libraries provide for the community. He will take that passion and excitement with him onto the next step, and their will be many who will cheer him on. I’m his #1 fan and will be shouting encouragement all along the way. Love you my goofy librarian.”

FOX Carolina reached out to the Greenville County Library System about the matter. A spokesman said the GCLS could not comment on personnel matters.

PELHAM ROAD BRANCH  

Julie Phillips confirmed to FOX Carolina on Friday, March 29th, that she is leaving her position as manager at the Pelham Road Branch of the GCLS. 

Phillips took to Facebook to release a statement on her employment status: 

"I have been so touched by the outpouring of love and support from my former colleagues and community at the Greenville County Library System. Over the past ten years, I have dedicated my time and energy to making the library a welcoming place for everyone in the Greenville community. But on Monday, March 18, I was abruptly forced to leave the library and people I loved and served. It has been a shock that I am still trying to process. My heart goes out to everyone left behind as they navigate feelings of fear, uncertainty and loss. I still care deeply about the library, the people who work there and the people they serve. It hurts me to see them hurting, to see in action the adverse effect that Jonathan’s and my exits are already having on the library and community. My hope is that the Board of Trustees will quickly enact a solution that will restore staff morale and put the library on the path to being the community catalyst it was meant to be. In the meantime, I am confident that GCLS staff will continue their diligent pursuit of the library’s mission and their dedicated service to the Greenville community."

FOX Carolina has reached out for a statement from the Greenville County Library System. 

Stay with FOX Carolina as we gather updates on the story. 

RELATED - Employees, community speak out in support of former Five Forks branch manager at Greenville Co. Library System board meeting

Copyright 2019 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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