Homer Library Advisory Board seeks public testimony regarding LGTBQ-themed children books

Homer Library Advisory Board seeks public testimony regarding LGTBQ-themed children books
Published: Nov. 15, 2022 at 10:29 PM AKST|Updated: Nov. 16, 2022 at 10:32 AM AKST
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HOMER, Alaska (KTUU) - Homer City Hall was packed wall-to-wall on Tuesday night as a flood of Homer residents waited to be heard during the Library Advisory Board meeting.

The board gathered to discuss the fate of 55 books that are currently being considered for removal from the children and young adult sections, and this meeting included an open session for the public to discuss their concerns regarding the books.

In July, Madeline Veldstra started the petition after feeling like certain books in the children section of the library were not age-appropriate.

“I just am concerned by seeing books about drag queens in my daughter’s level, right in the preschool level mixed in with all the other books,” Veldstra said. “So I thought, I don’t think these books are age-appropriate for children, so why don’t we move them to the adult section?”

Discussions during the meeting ranged from residents describing their worries about the sexual images the books had, to concerns about inclusion and debates over what is considered appropriate for young people.

Library Director Dave Berry originally dismissed the petition during the summer due to the libraries objective of being a place of representation for the entire community.

“Well, we represent every kind of viewpoint imaginable here in the library,” Berry said. “As we always emphasized, nobody is forced to read anything that they don’t like.”

“The Homer Public Library has always been about providing as much easy access to materials as possible, and that applies to all of our patrons, including our youngest. We want to keep books in the hands of kids as much as we can.”

However, Veldstra said she does not want to remove the books from the library but instead wants them to go to a designated section.

“This is a way we can protect kids from content that’s not age-appropriate for them, while also compromising and keeping the books in the library,” Veldstra said.

The advisory board decided at the end of the night to postpone a final decision on the books until their January meeting, allowing all seven members of the board time to review the 55 books in question.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional information.