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L.A. budget shortfall set to strike libraries

March 23, 2010 | 12:45 pm

Looks like the economic downturn is about to hit L.A.'s libraries. The Board of Library Commissioners will vote Thursday on a proposed plan to close libraries on Sundays and curtail weekday hours. Maeve Reston reports:

Under the proposal, which would take effect in mid-April, all of the city’s libraries would also close two hours earlier -- 6 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. -- on Mondays and Wednesdays. The eight regional libraries -- Arroyo Seco, Exposition Park, Frances Howard Goldwyn Hollywood, Mid-Valley, North Hollywood, San Pedro, West Valley and West Los Angeles -- would open at noon rather than 10 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

What the early closures might mean for the ALOUD reading series and other evening programs is not yet clear. Yet librarians seem to have made their peace with the idea of the reduction in hours; what concerns them most are additional cuts that might be coming at the behest of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Reston writes:

With the city facing a $485-million budget gap next fiscal year, the city's libraries could face far more drastic cuts. Twenty librarians, 20 library clerks and 60 messenger clerks are on the list of the first 1,000 job cuts authorized by city leaders this year.

Librarians and other library supporters plan to attend the L.A. City Council meeting Wednesday to speak up against the drastic cuts they may face.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: The Central Library history department. Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times