Opinion: What if the La Jolla Library closed three days a week?

By Doug Dawson

President, Friends of the La Jolla Library

Two library volunteers recently were talking about the city’s financial problems, and their own frustrations. One said, “I’m angered when I’m referred to as taxpayer-this and taxpayer-that! I’m a whole person, a citizen of this still-great Ccty, an appreciative user and contributor to San Diego services, and a citizen concerned for all of us. I’m not just a taxpaying wallet.”

Frustrations come from many residents, and these volunteers were voicing their own worries about the library’s beloved services and overall wellbeing.

Many patrons have been asking about how the city’s budget constrictions will be affecting our library. The simple but uneasy answer is: we don’t know yet. The city’s department heads, e.g., the library department, must have their proposed budgets for FY 2012 on the mayor’s desk by April 15, after which his approved budget goes to the City Council for their approval.

Mayor Sanders initially told the library that it would have to cut its budget by roughly 24 percent. Given that the materials budget has been so frequently cut in previous years, this year’s cuts will primarily land on staffing, and thus library services and/or hours. What if the La Jolla Library were closed three days a week?

In 2005, when the city was faced with serious financial/budget problems, the mayor and City Council closed libraries on Sundays and reduced hours on Saturdays and Fridays. The Friends of La Jolla Library worked tirelessly in communicating our patrons’ concerns to elected officials and to find alternate solutions through private philanthropy, and thus, kept the library open on Sundays.

From week to month, new data on the city’s current revenues and expenses keeps emerging, but citizens can be hard put to find consistent patterns. Now is the time when we must let our elected officials know our concerns and preferences. Otherwise, we may wake up one day soon and read that our incredible community resource, the La Jolla Library, is closed!

There is much work to be done to preserve and grow our La Jolla Library. In 2011, we are beginning a comprehensive strategic planning initiative. We will be exploring numerous courses of action going forward, both public and private.

We need your help. Please contact me if you can give your time, treasure or talent to the La Jolla Library. You can reach me at (858) 212-3311 or

dougdawson46@yahoo.com

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CONTACT YOUR LOCAL OFFICIALS

 • Mayor Jerry Sanders

(619) 236-6330

jerrysanders@sandiego.gov

• San Diego City Council District 1

Sherri Lightner

(619) 236-6611

sherrilightner@sandiego.gov

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