Employees protest cuts to Los Angeles libraries

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Corey Moore/KPCC

Protesters rally in front of the Central Library in downtown Los Angeles to protest cuts to library services.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s plan to close a budget deficit affects just about every city agency including public libraries. About 200 employees could lose their jobs under the mayor’s plan to help streamline the massive budget deficit. The elimination of jobs is only one part of the problem. Slashing funds will undercut financial support for the city of L.A.’s public library system, cautions Roy Stone, president of the Librarians' Guild.

“The library department has to pay back its utilities and indirect costs” said Stone. “That’s millions and millions of dollars. So it’s like, here’s your budget and now we’re taking this money back.”

Stone led a protest on Friday in front of the Central Library in downtown Los Angeles.

Passing drivers honked encouragement to about a dozen librarians and assistants who joined Stone, holding their signs high in protest of the proposed cuts.

Among them was Verdel Flores, vice president of the Librarians’ Guild.

She says schools, parents and teachers depend on libraries to help kids thrive.

“We provide that site for the kids and the tutors to get together,” said Flores. “The schools aren’t open pass three o’ clock. Parents are working so it’s exciting to get the public to support us like this.”

The mayor’s plan calls for the elimination about 110 unfilled full-time jobs. It would also open libraries five days a week, instead of six.

The system’s 72 branches are already closed Friday mornings because the city’s ordered employees to take unpaid days off this fiscal year.

About 1,100 people work for the city of L.A.’s public library system. The proposed job and service cuts do not apply to more than 80 Los Angeles County public libraries and bookmobiles.

The city could impose cuts as soon as July 1, 2010.

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