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Protesters sound off over L.A. library cuts

July 17, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
They are ones who typically tell you to be quiet in the library. But on Monday, Los Angeles library staffers were on the streets with a loud message for City Hall."We know it takes a village to raise a child, right? And part of that village are libraries," said author and activist Noel Alumit.

"I grew up with the library services. I would have never gotten through half of my college years if I didn't have access to the Internet or the resources or the books and everything," said Natasha Ang, a West Valley Regional Library worker.

Ang is a victim of budget cuts. Twenty-eight percent of the workforce has been laid off, totaling 328 full-time positions. This means slashed hours at eight regional libraries and 64 community libraries.

Facilities that were once open seven days a week are now down to five including Los Angeles Central Library.

Library supporters say the neediest segment of the community will suffer the most, especially those who depend on the systems 2,300 computers.

"It serves people of all ethnicities, of all religions. We serve our immigrants. We have language collections in every language. The more that we cut this kind of a resource, the more we're hurting especially the poor," said librarian Erica Sullivan.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has said that every department must cut back to bridge a $485 million deficit. On Monday, the first weekday closure for the libraries, the protesters called for the council to rescind its decision, a cut that especially impacts young people seeking education.

"We are in the worst financial crisis the city has ever faced and we're all going to have to take a cut," Villaraigosa said. "If we took a cut, even a 5 percent cut, we could avoid shutting the library down two days a week. We could do that."

Some are not satisfied with that response.

"Our kids have enough cuts. There's no recreation, and there's nothing for kids to do. But when they go off and do the wrong thing, then everybody wants to put them in jail and put them in programs," said Tiffany Washington, a library patron.

The prospects for acquiring new funds and reopening these doors are slim. Library supporters had been pushing for a parcel tax to be put on the November ballot. The city council rejected it.


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