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Librarians Protest Budget Cuts, Crowding Hollywood Intersection During Rush Hour

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About 50 librarians and book supporters gathered on all four corners of a busy Hollywood intersection last Friday evening during rush hour, earning honks in support of saving L.A.'s dwindling library system. This year, it has already faced major cuts--for one, libraries are no longer open seven days a week--and now faces even heavier ones in Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's proposed budget, which will take affect July 1st when libraries could go from six to five days of open doors.

"[The proposed budget] is completely backwards--it has funding towards upper escheleon positions and layoffs in the hundreds in all the lower positions," explained Shannon Salmon, a librarian who runs the SaveTheLibrary advocacy website. "It's just a mess."

In a letter (.pdf) detailing how the proposed budget would affect the city's 83-libary system, City Librarian Martin Gomez said the workforce will be reduced by 328 positions, a 28% cut in the workforce. "The impact of a reduction of this size will require the library to reduce service hours from 6 days a week to 5 days a week at all 73 libraries citywide," he wrote. If 124 positions could be spared from elimination, the current 6-day a week schedule could be maintained.