Librarians, book lovers criticize proposed LA library cuts

Los Angeles Central Library, in downtown Los Angeles, Calif.
Los Angeles Central Library, in downtown Los Angeles, Calif.
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Dozens of librarians and book lovers showed up at Wednesday's Los Angeles City Council meeting to protest proposed cuts to public libraries.

L.A.’s public libraries have offered a mental and physical haven to Rachael Bachus.

“As a high school student, I used the Central Library as well as my neighborhood branch libraries not only for study after school but also as havens from the negative influences that surrounded my neighborhood at the time.”

As it faces its worst budget deficit ever, Los Angeles is considering closing all city libraries on Sundays and reducing hours at most branches as early as next month.

Most branches already are closed on Sundays. The additional closures would include large regional branches and the big downtown central library.

“The library has served this city since the late 1890’s. There have to be ways to find other funding to save these services that serve the poorest and most needy among us," librarian Erica Silverman told the City Council.

Mr. Pena-Chavez, a retired librarian, was outraged by the proposed cutbacks.

"The library is the one place in the city government that really works for its constituents. I’m here to fight for it," he said amid cheers from an audience full of librarians and people who use the public libraries.

The city librarian said that unfilled vacancies, early retirements and proposed layoffs mean L.A. could lose as many as 300 of its 1,100 library employees.