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New City Librarian, New Call to Fight Illiteracy

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Martin J. Gomez was confirmed today as the new City Librarian, charging him with the duty to oversee a $129 million budget, 6 million books and 1,100 employees throughout the 71 branches. The UCLA grad started his 30-year career as branch librarian in San Diego, moving on to head up Oakland's system, then to work in Brooklyn and most recently San Mateo. Taking advantage of the moment, Councilmember Richard Alarcon introduced a motion to fight illiteracy rates in the city. “We have one of the largest, and growing, illiterate populations in the nation in Los Angeles, and we must take proactive steps to strategically reduce this devastating trend,” said Alarcón in a statement citing that 3.8 million people in the metropolitan area cannot read. “My motion is the first step in re-thinking the role of the library system, so the Department can further expand its role in helping people of all ages receive a crucial tool for success - the ability to read.”

The motion calls for a report on current literacy levels, assessment of current literacy programs done through the City and in conjunction with private and non-profit partners, the inclusion of the goal of reducing literacy as part of the mission statement and also the formation of a Literacy Advisory Committee. The motion also calls for a possibly changing the name of the department from the Los Angeles Public Library to the City of Los Angeles Department of Literacy and Public Library.