Friday, February 18, 2011

Children's Author on Libraries

I keep saying I'm going to stop writing about the closing of public and school libraries and make this blog a little more fun. And really, I will. But it's hard for me to ignore the issue since things keep getting worse, at least here in Southern California.

I'm newly riled up by impending budget cuts and the need for Measure L, which will increase city funding of Los Angeles libraries, currently closed entirely on Sundays and Mondays. (This frustrates me not only as someone who cares about the field, but as the mother of a book-loving 4 1/2 year old.)

Susan Patron, a wonderful author whose book The Higher Power of Lucky won the 2007 Newbery, has a well-argued op-ed in today's LA Times.

Patron, who worked for 35 years at the Los Angeles Public Library, starts off by talking about the role libraries played in her life as a kid in LA.

Then she describes about the political and economic issues:

The measure doesn't call for a tax increase. It calls for a change in city priorities, a change in how we allocate the funds Los Angeles already collects. That change of priorities is crucial. The city's leaders have shown that they cannot be trusted to weigh the worth of our library appropriately as they grapple with L.A.'s deficits. Their unwillingness to give the library its fair share means that the voters must step in.

Measure L will restore six-day-a-week service to all our libraries, and eventually seven-day-a-week service to our Central Library and six regional libraries. It will increase support for afterschool and summer programs, and provide funding for books and other materials.

Measure L has been endorsed by a wide range of business and civic leaders, including former MayorRichard Riordan and authors Ray Bradbury, Joseph Wambaugh and Janet Fitch.

Children have little say in their quality of life; they entrust that to us. I'm voting yes on Measure L — yes on open doors, yes on big ideas, yes on a welcoming refuge at their branch library for every kid in every neighborhood.

Please pass Susan's piece around if you share my strong feelings about books and reading, and if your life has been made better by them.

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