L.A. voters strongly approved Measure L today, early returns showed. The city ballot initiative increases dedicated spending for the Los Angeles Public Library system by $50 million over the next few years without raising taxes.

Lucy McCoy, chairwoman of Yes on Measure L, said: “Tonight was a vote for keeping our kids safe after school, for helping job seekers get back to work, for seniors looking for a warm place to read and for all the Library goers young and old.  Angelenos have sent a clear message that our libraries are a critical part of the fabric of our community.”

Last year, the L.A. Weekly feature story “City of Airheads” exposed deep, City Hall-approved budget cuts to L.A. public libraries.

In response, outraged residents began demanding that L.A. City Council members restore funding. L.A. City Councilman Bernard Parks then authored Measure L.

Librarians regularly tell the Weekly that “City of Airheads” was a “turning point” in forcing politicians to reverse their drastic budget cuts.

The Los Angeles Times, however, barely covered the issue, and opposed Measure L in an editorial.

From the Weekly's count, the L.A. Times devoted only 78 or so paragraphs in blog and newspaper coverage out of thousands and thousands of paragraphs written every year about decisions made by the L.A. City Council and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Aside from the dying city of Detroit, Los Angeles has been the only significant U.S. municipality to close down its entire library system two days a week. Soon after the new increase takes hold, public libraries are expected to return to a six-day-a-week schedule citywide.

Eventually, the library system will have the appropriate funding to open the Richard J. Riordan Central Library in downtown and 8 regional libraries seven days a week, with 64 branch libraries operating six days a week.

Over the past few weeks, the Weekly has published numerous blog posts about how the budget cuts have deeply impacted librarians and their patrons, including the fact that students can't use public libraries on Sundays and Mondays to do important school work.

The approval of Measure L will change that.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.

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