About 60 people gathered this morning in downtown Los Angeles to protest budget cuts to the Los Angeles Public Library.
Union leaders, poets, teachers, students and concerned citizens marched down 5th Street chanting “one-two-three-four… unslam the library doors,” as cars passing by honked in support.
Recently, the City of Los Angeles closed all of its 73 branches on Sundays and Mondays due to a budget shortfall.
“I'm here to protect the library,” said Shannon Salmon of West L.A. and a current library employee. “This is the first time in our 130-year history that the library has closed on a non-holiday Monday.”
Following the march, protesters met in front of the Central Library's 5th Street entrance and pounded on the green double doors.
“It takes a village to raise a child and part of the village is the library,” yelled poet Noel Alumit.
David Meyer, an accountant and library volunteer, angrily questioned why the city did not account for revenue gained from parking fee increases and how easily library services were cut.
“Where's the money?” Meyer said. “It's a simple question. It's easy to cut the librarians when you say this pocket is empty, but the thing is this pocket has a bulge in it. So what's in it and how much?”
Meyer added that with the revenue from the parking fees, the City can rehire the employees it laid off.
Virginia Walter, a former librarian and a professor at UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, spoke about the negative impact the closures will have on children.
“Research shows that children do better in school if their surrounded by the wealth of books they find at the library,” said Walter. She pointed out that “because of the budget cuts, more than 15 libraries have no trained childrens librarians.”
Gina Manzizila, a 24-year-old student, just happened to discover the protest. She was on her way to apply for a position at the downtown library.
“I really think this is wrong for them do that, especially for students,” Manzizila told the Weekly. “This is unacceptable.”
John Holden, 31, of East Hollywood shared the same sentiments.
“I just feel lonely when the library is not open,” Holden said. “To have a public space close is really sad and pathetic.”
The Los Angeles City Council recently dropped a proposed $39 parcel tax designed to keep the libraries open for six days a week from the ballot.