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In Support of Libraries and Librarians

March 7, 2010 | 11:00 am

Photograph by Carolyn Kellogg / Los Angeles Times

The downtown public library, which survived a devastating fire, is now threatened with budget cutbacks and layoffs.  

The Daily Mirror is a big supporter of libraries and librarians, and we’re utterly opposed to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s proposed cutbacks at the Los Angeles Public Library, because without the LAPL and archives like it,  the Daily Mirror couldn’t exist.

Anyone who conducts serious research about Los Angeles and Southern California will tell you that our history is spread among a nearly uncountable number of libraries and archives, as reflected in the annual Archives Bazaar. One of the Daily Mirror’s primary resources is the Los Angeles Public Library, which provides access to the only available copies of historic newspapers like the Examiner, the Herald-Express, the Daily News, the California Eagle and the Los Angeles Sentinel.  In addition, we rely on the public library for city maps, rare and obscure books,   digitized phone books and city directories going back to 1915,  an online photo archives, and -- most of all -- advice on how to conduct research that is acquired only through many years of experience.

But the Daily Mirror’s use of the library is only part of the story. The LAPL provides a host of services for other members of the community, whether it’s genealogists, children, young adults, people reading in all the languages we encounter in L.A., and countless others.

Unfortunately, the city’s proposed budget cuts are falling heavily on the public library.  As my friend and fellow blogger Mary McCoy of the history department says:

“Most of the people they'll be laying off (or to be honest about it, firing) are in their 20s and 30s. For most of them, this is their first job out of library school, most of them are children's and young adult librarians, and most of them have a lot of energy and enthusiasm for what they do. So, the city will be throwing out the future of the institution, the people who work with kids, and some of the hardest-working staff they have.”

As Times business writer Alana Semuels has reported, more people are using the library to cut their expenses in the weak economy, whether it's checking out books, DVDs and CDs or using free Internet access to look for a job, making this the worst time to cut back.   

What can library supporters do? Speak out. Let city officials know what the library system means to you. And thank your local library. There’s also a website.