L.A.-Area Library Systems Get Good Budget News
Flagg, Gordon, American Libraries
More accustomed to prolonged fiscal crises, Los Angeles-area librarians and library users can finally rejoice in the wake of funding news that demonstrates strong political support for the region's libraries.
In a June 3 special election, Los Angeles County residents approved a special library tax measure by a vote of nearly 70%. The passage of Proposition L, designed to replace funds lost when state voters passed the tax-cutting Proposition 218 last November (AL, Jan., p. 16), is expected to generate $7.8 million annually, which would allow the County of Los Angeles Public Library to maintain its current level of hours, materials, and programming and avoid the loss of some 300 full- and part-time staff.
Proposition 218 eliminated the assessment district that had been approved by L.A. County supervisors in 1995 (AL, Nov. 1995, p. 995-997), explained County Librarian Sandra Reuben. The new funds will go to the 44 libraries that were included in that assessment district; the remaining 44 libraries - all within the county's cities - are unaffected.
Reuben credited the campaign's success to fundraising efforts by the Library Foundation and to the library's union, which ran telephone banks from its headquarters. In addition, she said, the measure was backed by every newspaper in the area, and the anti-tax Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, which initiated Proposition 218, took a neutral position on the issue.
The victory, said Reuben, demonstrated "there's very strong support of public libraries here in California," adding, "I think it's something that surprised elected officials everywhere, because they never thought we could pull this off. …