Are public libraries worth saving? The fact that the question is even being asked is alarming, considering only a fraction of a library’s contents are online, but it’s becoming an increasingly necessary one to ask. The Los Angeles County Library system is staring down a 22-million dollar deficit per year over the next decade and is shopping around some unsavory solutions. So far the system has cut costs by reducing part-time staff and days of operation, some to just four days a week, but that was just to close this year’s 8-million dollar deficit. Looking ahead, the County Library System is proposing a property tax hike measure on the March ballot but voters in Ventura rejected a similar option to raise their city’s sales tax by half a cent, which shut down their most popular branch last year. The system continues to be dealt blows by cities like Santa Clarita, which this year decided to divorce its three libraries from county management and hand them over to a private company. Patt talks with the county librarian about what solutions are on the table and takes your questions about your own local libraries.
Margaret Donnellan Todd, Los Angeles County Librarian