Monday, 17 January 2011 14:03

The California Budget: A World Without Libraries

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LAT Central Library.bmpWhat's going on in California regarding its libraries is pretty terrible. For a start, the new governor Jerry Brown has a $25.4 billion shortfall, and his proposed budget doesn't cut library spending -- it eliminates it. By doing that, he'll save $30 million, according to the Los Angeles Times.
In the past, state funding has reached as high as $56.8 million -- but that was more than a decade ago.

The LAT quoted the president of the California Library Association, Paymaneh Maghsoudi, saying:

The proposed cuts unveiled by the governor will not only jeopardize library hours, staff positions, and the availability of books and materials, they will also potentially dismantle the cooperative system of borrowing and loaning books, known as Transaction Based Reimbursement (TBR), that has existed statewide for over three decades. Incidentally, a cut of this magnitude to the TBR could make the state ineligible for the federal match that is a part of this program.

Too late, for Los Angelenos anyway. A July, 2010 article in the LAT said that the LA Public Library had moved to a reduced hours schedule that kept the library closed not only on Sundays but also on Mondays. The central (above) and branch libraries are open two nights a week, Tuesday and Thursday, until 8 p.m.

I just checked, and that's still true. Not a single one -- central or branch -- is open on Mondays. That strikes me as draconian. Couldn't some remain open on Mondays, and close another day?

Libraries, in the digital age, are becoming more central to us, not less. I sympathize with Gov. Brown's goals -- he has made other drastic cuts -- but something seems out of whack here. Must we leave our libraries totally in the hands of philanthropists?

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