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SOUTH GATE : Emergency Funds Help 2 Libraries

November 27, 1994|SIMON ROMERO

Thanks to an emergency allocation of funds from the County Board of Supervisors, South Gate's two beleaguered libraries have increased the number of days and hours they are open.

Part of the 87-branch county system, the Hollydale and Weaver libraries will be open five days a week for 30 hours, and 6 days a week for 50 hours, respectively. The new library hours began two weeks ago.

The Hollydale Library had only been open two days a week and Weaver Library was only open four days a week. Both stopped buying new books and materials two years ago when the state withdrew half of the county library system's funding and allocated it to schools statewide instead.

"We're very grateful to the board for this reprieve," Hollydale librarian Agnes Holt said. "But unfortunately it's only temporary and doesn't solve our long-term financial problems."

Without the county's emergency allocation the Weaver Library's hours would have been curtailed further and the Hollydale Library would have been closed. Ten county libraries have been closed in the last two years.

The board's last-minute allocation last month is only a stopgap measure because the funds only last until the end of this fiscal year, June 30, 1995, Holt said. Then the library system will have to renew the search for funds.

The board's decision to draw money from the general fund will allow the rehiring of hundreds of library workers who were laid off during the last two years. About 55 full-time workers and 200 part-time workers will be rehired during the next few months, County Librarian Margaret Wong said.

Both South Gate branches will rehire workers, Wong said, but it is unclear how many.

In addition, county officials hope to return most of the system's 87 libraries to full seven-day-a-week operating schedules and resume regular purchases of books.

Before county funding was approved, more than half of the county's libraries were open two days a week and even the largest, such as the Huntington Park branch, were open four days a week.

At the urging of Supervisor Gloria Molina, the board allocated $22.5 million from general funds instead of implementing an approved countywide community facilities district assessment, which would have taxed households and businesses in unincorporated parts of the county, as well as in cities that chose to participate in the assessment.

Only 16 cities had chosen to participate in the assessment, which would have taxed single-family households $28.50 a year and businesses several hundreds of dollars a year, depending on their size. The assessment would have raised an estimated $16 million a year.

South Gate had chosen not to participate in the assessment.

"When June rolls around we'll have to start the whole funding procedure all over again," Wong said. "If it turns out we have to go with the assessment again, then we would have to try to convince each and every city to participate."

New library hours for Hollydale Library, 12000 S. Garfield Ave., (310) 634-0156, are noon to 8 p.m. Tuesdays; noon to 6 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; noon to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Hours for Weaver Library, 4035 Tweedy Blvd., (213) 567-8853, are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays; noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays.

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