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Campaign to restock Pride displays at San Diego libraries, patrons say they won't return books

Two patrons checked out several LGBTQ+ books from the Rancho Penasquitos library without the intention of returning the literature.

SAN DIEGO — Pride displays promote diversity and inclusivity. But at the Rancho Penasquitos library, a few people decided to stop others from being able to see or read the books on display.

Throughout San Diego, library branches people will see the colorful Pride and Progress flag displays filled with diverse LGBTQ+ books, music and videos.

“Folks get really excited to see the colorful and wonderful displays and uplifting those voices and celebrating our community and history and achievements and struggles,” said Ady Huertas, San Diego Library Program Manager Youth, Family and Equity Services.

But the library says last week two library patrons at the Rancho Penasquitos library branch checked out 14 LGBTQ+ books and one wrote the library to say they don't plan to return them until the Pride display is taken down.

“We really didn't think we had that kind of fear and hate in our town. But apparently, we do,” said Marni von Wilpert, Councilmember, District 5.

She represents the area and says LGBTQ+ voices will not be silenced, and neither will hers. For the first time, she's publicly talking about her sexuality.

“I was devastated because I do want to show in my own leadership, as an LGBTQ+ elected official, it means a lot to me to have the support in my own community. Seeing that some folks might want to censor others from reading books that they don't agree with, really is not okay,” said von Wilpert.

She partnered with the San Diego Library Foundation and the LGBT Community Center in a fundraising campaign to replace the books at that library and beyond.

“I'm very excited that what started as an incident based on intolerance and hate, has now blossomed into this wonderful fundraiser where we're going to have not only Pride displays at one library, but now all 36 libraries,” said von Wilpert.

Librarians say it has no plans to close the book on their Pride displays.

“We don't want to deny access to books that reflect those interest and diverse communities,” said Huertas. “We also want to promote intellectual freedom and freedom to read.”

The community hopes others see this freedom to display as the true meaning of Pride.

“We'd really love people to give what they can donate books and also just talk about why this is important. Everyone, every family, every child in San Diego should feel accepted and tolerated and loved,” said von Wilpert.

If you are interested in helping to have PRIDE literature and resources available in all 36 San Diego Public libraries, please visit The San Diego Library Foundation donation website and write “PRIDEBOOKS” in the comment section. If you are writing a check, please make checks payable to “Library Foundation SD”, put “PRIDEBOOKS” in the subject line, and mail to: Library Foundation SD, PO Box 120391, San Diego, CA 92112.

If you are interested in learning about the San Diego Library LGBTQIA+ events and services click here.  

To read San Diego Library Director, Misty Jones', response to the library patron who doesn't intend to return the book click here

WATCH RELATED: The meaning behind 2023 San Diego Pride theme 'Thrive' (June 2023).

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