My post about the Los Angeles Public Library budget cuts prompted an eloquent e-mail from Anna Sklar, former public affairs director of the L.A. Department of Public Works and author of the enlightening “Brown Acres: An Intimate History of the Los Angeles Sewers,” published by Angel City Press:
Your blog today about the library's path to success for children of immigrants reminds me of my own experience with LAPL. It's not just children of immigrants who need public libraries. It's poor and disenfranchised, homeless, or foster kids who need the libraries.
I grew up in an orphanage, and, basically, lived at the local Palms branch (torn down many years ago-replaced by the Palms-Rancho branch that I could not have walked to when I was growing up). LAPL was my home and years later I briefly worked as public relations director in the early 70s, created exhibits that annoyed the hell out of then Councilman Lindsay--in particular, one celebrating 100 years of dissent and protest that featured the voices of Angela Davis, Malcolm X, Rejas Tejerina broadcast in the rotunda, anti-war posters, broadsides (from Spanish-American War to Vietnam), a lengthy reading list of banned books, all sorts of dissent and protest. It was the most fun I ever had, and that year we won the John Cotton Dana Award from the ALA (American Library Association).
Later, I was recruited by the Librarians Guild to help them wage a battle against then Mayor Bradley who had proposed book budget cuts. We won, using the best Saul Alinsky tactics I could share. Ah, those were the days. Today, it's really hard to get a decent public protest going. But I still support the librarians who are trying to save, not only their jobs, but the very essence of the public library. Shame on Villaraigosa and the insipid, in the pocket of who knows what lobbyists council members. Don't see them taking a drastic cut. The worst, of course, is former Police Chief Parks with his double-dipping pension and salary.