L.A. libraries to expand hours thanks to voters' funding measure
Starting immediately, Los Angeles public libraries will again be open Monday and Wednesday nights, as well as Friday mornings, a change that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa celebrated with a cadre of city officials at a press conference Monday morning.
The new hours signify the latest in a series of planned service reinstatements after voters last year passed Measure L, which will double the share of city revenue going to libraries by 2014. It was a response to a series of painful service cuts instituted at Los Angeles public libraries, including a 25% staff reduction and closure of all branches on Mondays. Operating hours at the city’s 73 libraries had been cut to the lowest levels in their 140-year history, according to library officials.
“Libraries are important to the soul of the city and together today we reclaim a part of that soul,” said City Councilman Eric Garcetti, who helped push the measure.
“It pained us all to make a decision to reduce library hours, but today I’m thrilled to be here to announce the second phase in the restoration of our libraries,” Villaraigosa said to a crowd of reporters and schoolchildren gathered on the downtown Central Library steps.
Critics at the time labeled Measure L “ballot-box budgeting” that would ensure greater library funding at the cost of other spending on public safety and recreation programs.
City Councilman Paul Krekorian emphasized the importance of libraries in providing access to basic services. “What has more impact on public safety than the availability of a library for young people to go to?” he said. “What does more to help our economy than a library that allows jobseekers to come and work on their résumés and improve their skills?”
Service enhancements will continue, with plans to expand the libraries’ collection of books and online resources by next year, and introduce Sunday hours at nine regional libraries by 2014, said library spokesman Peter Persic.
— Christine Mai-Duc at Los Angeles City Hall
Photo: City and library leaders, and fifth-grade students from Dolores Huerta Elementary School await the ceremonial opening of the doors at Central Library. Credit: Christine Mai-Duc / Los Angeles Times