Letters to the Editor: Librarians push back on Huntington Beach plan to keep kids from reading ‘obscene’ books

The children's section of the Huntington Beach Public Library on May 1.
The children’s section of the Huntington Beach Public Library on May 1.
(Scott Smeltzer / Los Angeles Times)
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To the editor: I spoke at the Huntington Beach City Council meeting about the proposal by Mayor Pro Tem Gracey Van Der Mark to restrict certain library books. Her plan goes beyond just labeling books for children or moving disputed teen titles into the adult section — she wants to restrict any access of said books to anyone under 18 years old without a parent present.

One title currently shelved in the children’s nonfiction section, “It’s Perfectly Normal,” is a very frank description of going through puberty and developing sexuality. If this book is to be restricted, are all the other titles dealing with this subject to be restricted?

“Grandad’s Pride” shows a child’s grandfather hugging his partner and going to a Pride parade. If this book is to be locked up, will other children’s books that have LGBTQ+ themes or characters also be restricted?


The title that most concerns me is the adult nonfiction book “Gender Queer.” If this book is to be restricted because someone 17 or under might find it and look at it, then will all the other adult nonfiction books that deal with sex also be locked up?

When you start denying access to these titles, are you denying the rights of those who can’t provide identification or teens who believe they have the right to look at the books they want? Who gets to decide what’s obscene when the library only orders books that have been positively reviewed by reliable sources?

Unless, of course, this will all just be an excuse to privatize the city’s library system.

Barbara Richardson, Huntington Beach

The writer is a former children’s librarian for the Huntington Beach Public Library.


To the editor: For the 40 years I was with the Huntington Beach Public Library, I knew many children’s librarians. Their master’s degrees in library and information science compelled them to objectively and thoughtfully select books to enhance the collection.


Our librarians weren’t very political, unlike the present mayor pro tem and city attorney of Huntington Beach.

Many citizens spoke eloquently opposing the council’s attempt to make book selection political. The council majority didn’t get it.

Therefore I shall be short and discreet about their proposal so even the mayor pro term and city attorney can remember and understand: It’s stupid.

Ron Hayden, Huntington Beach

The writer is a former director of the Huntington Beach Public Library.