Hey gang,This may seem to not apply to those of you outside of Los Angeles, but, as our economy worsens, the same situation is going to be popping up all over the country.
Rumors have been swirling around since LA announced it's budget crisis that our Public Library system will be one of the hardest hit. Rumors from a 'transfer fee' for books, staff layoffs, removal of valuable databases, and cancellation of subscriptions to magazines abound. In fact, the library has had a buying freeze since February, meaning they haven't ordered any new books at all.
A few concerned citizens set up a website about the crisis, and you can check that out here: http://savelapl.org/
On that site you can send a letter to the mayor of Los Angeles, and the other elected officials of import to let them know your disdain for their attempts to dismantle one of the best resources offered by the city.
Here's what I wrote them...
Dear Mayor Villaraigosa, City Librarian Holmes and Library Commissioners,
I write to express my great concern about the proposal to begin charging a $1 fee for all inter-branch book loans at the Los Angeles Public Library after July 1st. The public library needs to be free for all citizens of Los Angeles, and I urge you to find some other way to generate funds that doesn't place the burden onto the people who can least afford it. I also encourage you to seek creative solutions to generate income that can be used to restore the book buying budget. These might include hosting special events or a fundraising auction, or following the successful lead of the New York Public Library by selling reproductions of images in the collection or offering fee-based reference assistance.
Our libraries are more than just a public resource, it's the gift of education. As a professional writer, many of my fondest memories that inspired me to follow my dreams were of my time at my hometown libraries. Having all of the knowledge at my fingertips gave me a perspective on the wealth of knowledge, philosophy, art, and history that was so easily attained through a public service.
Just like with our troubled school system, the solution is NOT to cut services, but to expand them. To use the resources at hand, including the passionate staff, amazing collection, and wealth of cultural history to generate revenue that's already inherent to what they do. Chasing insignifcant fees, cutting staff, and defacing one of the truly great sanctums of knowledge in our city is not the way to accomplish that.
Our mayor made a commitment to improve education, and, to make sure that every citizen, be they child or adult, have access to the treasures contained in the public library system is an important part of that promise. In times like these, hard nosed, short sighted politicking is not the solution. Instead, it's time for our local government to prove that they're the visionary, foreward thinking individuals we elected.
Joshua Hale Fialkov
So, please, go to the website, check out the situation, and participate. Activism will make a difference, and it won't take too much of your time.
Thanks for reading, and feel free to forward this to anyone who may find this interesting.
Joshua Hale Fialkov www.thefialkov.com