Measure L: Studio City Librarian Karen Pickard-Four Says Teens and Seniors Feel Pain of Budget Cuts at L.A. Libraries

At the Studio City Branch Library in the San Fernando Valley, acting senior librarian Karen Pickard-Four says teens and senior citizens feel the pain of severe budget cuts at the Los Angeles Public Library system.

"For those kids who don't have a computer at home," says Pickard-Four, "it really messes things up."

Los Angeles joins the dying city of Detroit as the only significant U.S. municipality to close down its entire library system twice weekly -- a choice Detroit leaders made during the early-1980s recession, and from which its cultural core seems never to have recovered.

Teens often use computers at the Studio City library to do their homework, says Pickard-Four.

But due to extreme budget cuts that have closed L.A.'s public libraries on Sundays and Mondays, and have shortened operating hours on other days, middle school and high school students' access to computers has now been limited.

As Pickard-Four and other librarians have noted, not everyone owns a computer in L.A.

Pickard-Four also points out that senior citizens have lost a place to visit during the day so they can get out of their homes and socialize.

"Often times," says the librarian, "(seniors) live alone, and they use the library as a community center."

It's a shocking situation, in which L.A. politicians have quickly turned one of the largest and most respected library systems in the country into an institution that's now less student-friendly, less family-friendly, and less senior-friendly.

L.A. Weekly, in fact, uncovered these embarrassing truths in the widely-read feature story "City of Airheads," which outraged many L.A. residents.

But Measure L, an initiative authored by L.A. City Councilman Bernard Parks, seeks to help those teens and seniors by better funding L.A.'s public libraries.

The ballot measure will not increase taxes, but dedicates a slightly larger slice of existing money in the city's general fund to the library system.

Measure L has been endorsed by Valley Industry and Commerce Association, AFL-CIO's Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, the Los Angeles NAACP, the PEN Center USA,

former Mayor of Los Angeles Richard Riordan, and many other politicians, labor unions, and civic groups.

Pickard-Four says the Studio City Branch is "very busy," with around 22,000 people visiting the library each month.

"The reduction in hours has made it hard on the public," she notes.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.


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