Donations of LGBTQ books flood into Prairie du Chien library following Van Orden report

By: - September 1, 2021 3:07 pm
Prairie du Chien Memorial Library

The Prairie du Chien Memorial Library.

The Prairie du Chien library has received dozens of donations of LGBTQ-themed books in recent days after a staff member was harassed by Republican congressional candidate Derrick Van Orden over an LGBTQ Pride Month display. 

The La Crosse Tribune reported last week that in June, Van Orden went to the Prairie du Chien Memorial Library, was offended by a Pride Month book display and complained to staff members about the content of the books in the display. 

Derrick Van Orden
Derrick Van Orden is running a second time against Democratic Rep. Ron Kind. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Staff members, including a then-17-year-old LGBTQ library page, told the Tribune they felt harassed by Van Orden — who is running for the second time in the highly contested 3rd Congressional District. Eventually Van Orden obtained a library card and checked out every book remaining in the Pride Month display. 

Following the story by the Tribune and other media outlets, the incident went viral and messages of support for the library staff came in from across the internet. In response, staff members set up an Amazon wish list, the Prairie Pride & Diversity Gift Registry so supporters could donate books for members of the LGBTQ community and people of color. 

A picture posted to a Wisconsin-focused subreddit shows stacks and stacks of Amazon boxes at the library. Prairie du Chien Library Director Nancy Ashmore declined to comment on the donations. 

Van Orden has frequently been criticized for descriptions of his treatment of women he wrote in his book and using campaign cash to travel to Washington D.C. on Jan. 6. Last month, incumbent Democratic Rep. Ron Kind announced he will retire, and Van Orden is running for his seat. Democrats, who do not yet have a candidate to replace Kind, say the library incident is one more sign Van Orden isn’t qualified to be a member of Congress. 

“Derrick Van Orden is an insurrectionist, sexual harasser of female service members, and a bully who will stoop as low as threatening the very people he’s seeking to represent,” Elena Kuhn, spokesperson for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, says. “It’s clear Van Orden doesn’t hold Wisconsin values and he has no business representing the Badger State.”


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Henry Redman
Henry Redman

Henry Redman is a staff reporter for the Wisconsin Examiner who focuses on covering Wisconsin's towns and rural areas. He previously covered crime and courts at the Daily Jefferson County Union. A lifelong Midwesterner, he was born in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a degree in journalism in May 2019.