Don't go to the library on Sunday. Or Monday.
Budget contractions are squeezing the Los Angeles Public Library, which begins a new schedule of reduced hours this Sunday, July 18. Going forward, the Central Library and all 72 LA Public Library branches will be open just five days, Tuesday through Saturday.
All will be closed on Sundays and Mondays. The new library hours, beginning July 18:
Tuesday, Central Library: 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.; Branch libraries: 12:30 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Wednesday, all libraries: 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Thursday, Central Library: 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.; Branch libraries: 12:30 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Friday, all libraries: 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, all libraries: 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
This means that students who need the computers or Internet access will have to queue up for places on Saturday. People who work regular hours and want to stop at libraries on the weekend will now have to remember Saturday is their only chance. And for many -- students, people with daytime jobs -- getting to the library at all will be a challenge. While the new hours seem paltry, the budget crisis might force even more drastic cuts in service in the future.
Do we still value libraries? I can't help but think of Andrew Carnegie who, after amassing his millions, launched his own public libraries because of what one man's generosity had meant to him.
Col. James Anderson opened his personal library to working boys, including Carnegie (there was some conflict over whether Carnegie, a messenger boy, qualified, because he had no trade). Carnegie later wrote that he considered being given access to Anderson's library an "invaluable privilege," continuing:
Books which it would have been impossible for me to obtain elsewhere were, by his wise generosity, placed within my reach; and to him I owe a taste for literature which I would not exchange for all the millions that were ever amassed by man.
Anderson also had limited hours. "Every day's toil and even the long hours of night service were lightened by the book which I carried about with me and read in the intervals that could be snatched from duty," Carnegie wrote. "And the future was made bright by the thought that when Saturday came a new volume could be obtained."
Today's would-be Carnegies have access to new volumes from public libraries here in Los Angeles -- as long as they, too, make sure to go on Saturday.
-- Carolyn Kellogg
Photo: The Los Angeles Central Library under cloudy skies. Credit: Robert Youngvia Flickr.