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Huntington Beach Rejects Letting Voters Decide on Outsourcing City Libraries

Huntington Beach Rejects Letting Voters Decide on Outsourcing City Libraries

A group of Huntington Beach residents organized a pop-up event to raise awareness of what they say are “inappropriate” books in the children’s section of the city's library, at City Hall in Huntington Beach, Calif., on April 16, 2024. (Courtesy of Patricia Pappas)

Micaela Ricaforte

Micaela Ricaforte

5/13/2024

Updated: 5/13/2024

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The Huntington Beach City Council recently rejected a proposal to ask voters if the city should outsource its library operations.
The council’s conservative majority voted 4–3 May 7 against the proposal, which would have put a measure on the city’s November ballot asking if voters in the future and the city’s council should be able to determine a change in the city’s library management.
The proposal would have also asked voters in November if the city should not be allowed to seek bids for library management from third parties.
Councilmember Dan Kalmick proposed taking the matter to city voters when the council’s conservative majority began discussing third-party library management in March, after former Huntington Beach Mayor Mike Posey reached out on behalf of his employer, Library Systems and Services, to ask if the city was interested in having the company take over library operations.
It currently runs libraries in Riverside County and in Upland, Escondido and Palmdale.
The discussion came after months of debate over so-called “inappropriate” books in the children’s section of the city’s libraries.
In October, the city council approved a resolution, introduced by Mayor Gracey Van Der Mark, to create a panel of community members with oversight of the books in the city’s five libraries.
Ms. Van Der Mark said she did so after some raised concerns over books with alleged inappropriate sexual content—including depictions of nudity and sex acts—in the children’s section of the city’s libraries.
Under the resolution, the panel reviews books and then asks city libraries to move those with sexual content out of the children’s section. It also requires a parent or guardian’s consent to access such materials.
The new ordinance also creates two options for library cards for minors—one with access to the “youth-restricted” section and one without—with parents deciding which library card their child receives.
However, a group of Huntington Beach residents told The Epoch Times that when they went to one of the libraries last month, the “youth-restricted” section was empty, and some of the books that were requested to be moved were still on the children’s and teens’ shelves.
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Micaela Ricaforte

Micaela Ricaforte

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Micaela Ricaforte covers education in Southern California for The Epoch Times. In addition to writing, she is passionate about music, books, and coffee.

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