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Central Library Sunday Hours

March 06, 1994

* Regarding the proposed Sunday closure of the Los Angeles Central Library (Feb. 21): I am appalled by the current state of our California public libraries. As a teacher/librarian of 32 years, I feel it imperative that both public libraries and school libraries remain open! Now, in the United States, reading is considered a right, not a privilege of status, as in the days of yore. As such, books should be available to all, regardless of age, ethnic group, social status, financial background, or work/school schedule.

It worries me, therefore, when I look into the future: The cost of a college education is rising rapidly, and will soon be one only the rich can afford. So, too, if various cities and school districts close their library doors--as a short-cut way to save money--books will soon be found only in the hands of the wealthy. I see education becoming, once again, an elitist experience: a giant step backwards, with long-term disastrous consequences.

I remind you of the words of Sir William Berkeley, governor of Virginia, 1677: "Thank God there are no free schools or printing . . . for learning has brought disobedience and heresy into the world, and printing has divulged them . . . God keep us from both."

Since the private funding grant from the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation will end by the close of March, and, since the library union wants the Central Library closed on Sundays (because of overworked librarians), I propose the following: Let unpaid citizens--those with time, energy, and a love of books--keep the doors open.

Sundays would be established as volunteer day at the Central Library. The public would know going in that "substandard" service might be received on that particular day, but allowances would be made for the inconvenience simply as a trade-off to keep the site open. (Although, it is my feeling that a core group of volunteers would quickly become acquainted with the collections). The Central Library now checks out twice as many books an hour on Sunday than on any other day, so those 2,000-plus visitors would appreciate the service they were getting, regardless.

My own particular area of expertise is children's literature. I would gladly share my extensive knowledge of said books with all who come in the door. I know that there are many other citizens that would join me in an effort to keep the library's doors open every Sunday, while promoting the excitement of reading. This would be an opportunity for all of us to provide a needed service to our community, and, at the same time, relieve paid librarians of covering an extra day.

Our libraries represent a significant public investment. As such, this resource needs to be open to all, daily. It is vital to our educational and cultural life. Learning is an everyday, lifelong process.

SHERRY L. MEINBERG

Long Beach

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