San Diego turns Pride library book protest into a win

Unfortunately theft of property below $950 is considered a misdemeanor in California, which means it is unlikely to be investigated and even if a prosecution moves forward, the reprimand from a judge will be light. The exception is if you are part of an organized crime, which prosecutors might be able to argue in this case.


Those freedom of speech conservatives are at it again, aren’t they?


Deborah Caldwell-Stone, who serves as director of the association’s office of intellectual freedom, said that the protesters in San Diego and elsewhere have taken advantage of relaxed policies intended to make books more accessible to patrons who cannot afford hefty fines.

In the San Diego Public Library system, card holders get five renewals for materials as long as no one else has requested them. Then, once a book is overdue, library patrons have two more months to return it before it is considered lost, and then they will be billed for it.

“Things intended to broaden access have been weaponized to engage in censorship,” Ms. Caldwell-Stone said.


But if the books were returned, there’s not much of a case, right? It wouldn’t surprise me if this California library were one of the many libraries that abolished late penalties for books, so there aren’t even late fees to pursue if it were the case that the books were even out for long. So all there is right now is the intent of theft but the actions performed weren’t actual violations.

If I’m wrong in how I’m viewing this, I hope they get the book thrown at them. It’s just not looking like a strong case can be made against them.


honestly it’s refreshing that people didn’t turn to the cops to solve the problem. relying on the cops has it’s own negative consequences. and it’s not like the cops have ever been particularly supportive of lgbtq folks ( almost always the opposite )


Try That In A Small Town


Oh, for sure. It is probably not worth the library’s meager resources to pursue it either. Though I don’t think that a lack of late fees would absolve the perpetrator of theft charges if it could be proven that the books were taken with the intention not to return them.

I see what you did there.


Excellent first post. Welcome to Boing Boing.


Same thing someone tried in my (previous) home town in Maryland last summer during Pride. She was kicking off her run for city council, which failed. Her protest failed as well because the library had tons more of the books in storage AND tons of people like me started donating lots of money and items to make up for the attempted censorship.


The checked out books have since been returned.

Well, it was either that or gasp read them. Something tells me that this was the first and last time these bigots have ever used a library card.


Yeah! Preferably one of them big heavy ones that these folks seem really keen on… y’know, the one they probably haven’t read or understood in any meaningful way:

Weighing 1,094 pounds, with 8,048 pages that measure 43.5 inches tall, and a laid open width of 98 inches, this bible was the Abilene Christian University library’s “largest” donation ever in 1956. The bible was built in Los Angeles by Louis Waynai in 1930 who gave it to a church in Fort Worth which later passed it on to ACU . Louis spent 2 years and over 8,700 hours creating this massive version of the complete King James Bible

That’ll larn 'em.



Could it possibly be extortion, or intimidation? It seems there was a demand coupled with a threat (i.e., Give us what we want, or you won’t get your property back).

There is obviously something wrong there that goes beyond simple theft or taking something that wasn’t theirs…

(NB: I am, most definitely, not a lawyer)


The checked out books have since been returned.

Of course, but that may not help. Apart from the failure of the checkout’s mission, the sheer magnitude of the community’s response must have worried the two idiots. It’s not as if their identities and home addresses could never be known. I suspect they’ll be losing a lot of sleep for a long while. Then again, the stupidity of their stunt tells me that all of the possible consequences may not have yet occurred to them. These two are ripe for the House Freedom Caucus.

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If they checked out the maximum number of books allowed by the library, the costs of replacing them could bring the charges into felony territory. Returning them was the best way to avoid that. Also to look like the chumps they were.

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We got an email at our local public library last month from people saying they had checked out all the Pride books from the teen section. Nope, dozens of books still on display. (they said they would return them after Pride month ended, so some serrrrious criminal masterminds right there, not realizing that when you check out a book it makes the book more popular) People are being so cut-paste-email, gotta own the libs, willfully ignorant that I don’t know how they make it through the day.


Well - they might have been dumb enough to out themselves via social media. But if they didn’t, I’d be surprised if any of the librarians outed them.

The librarians I know take their code of conduct very seriously and part of that involves protecting the privacy of borrowers. They would never leak the names of scumbuckets like these, because they would never want anyone too think they would leak the names of ANY borrower. People need to be able to borrow from public libraries in the knowledge that they won’t be outed.

One of the Australian Privacy Principles is that data shouldn’t be kept if it no longer serves a useful purpose. I was involved in discussions about this at a university. The university had never deliberately deleted any data and was trying to work out a suitable length of time to keep non-essential data. They were talking in terms of decades. The library rep was aghast, pointing out that library borrowing records were deleted something like a week after the book was returned. (Alas, can’t remember the exact number of days. It was so set so they could tell if a student was re-borrowing a book that was in high demand.) The only exception was when overdue fines were involved. Students had something like 3 months to dispute fines, so borrowing record had to be kept that long for late returns.

In another case, I found an old public library card I hadn’t used for a few years due to no longer working near the library. I rang them to cancel the card. The librarian I spoke to proudly told me it had already been cancelled, because if a card isn’t used for 12 months they automatically delete the account to maintain privacy. I’m guessing the records of what I borrowed were culled much sooner, but 12 months after I returned the last book I borrowed from that library there was no data left showing that I had ever visited that library!

In case it’s not clear, I am mighty impressed by librarians. I was going to add a comment about there needing to be a story about a superhero librarian, but then I realised Barbara Gordon has already got it covered.


Patron borrowing records are protected by state law in 48 US states, including California. Hawaii and Kentucky have state attorney general opinions supporting patron privacy.


FWIW, the two San Diego residents who sent the email to the Rancho Peñasquitos Library are named in the NYT (via Yahoo! News) article that’s linked to in the OP here. I didn’t see anything there saying how the Times came to know their names.

The article says that the two did not respond to requests for comment, and that City officials said they have not heard since from the library patrons.


With all due respect to librarians everywhere, for whatever reason we “can’t stop the signal”.

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