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Library Hours Cut When Residents Need Them Most

A reduced schedule at the Encino-Tarzana branch is making it more difficult for people to use the facility.

Recent budget cuts have caused the Encino-Tarzana Branch Library to scale back hours, yet citywide library attendance is the highest it's ever been in the system's 140-year history.

In the spring, the City Council closed the central branch and eight regional libraries on Sundays. It cut $22 million from the 2010-11 budget and closed all 73 city libraries on Mondays, said Los Angeles Public Library spokesman Peter Persic.

This has forced many of the city's libraries to lay off some workers and reduce hours of service. The change in service hours enables the library to adjust to recent staff reductions resulting from a citywide early retirement program and a hiring freeze initiated by the city of Los Angeles to reduce its budget deficit.

"We have record attendance and books being checked out, which is actually a trend that's been going on across the nation and it often happens in a time of economic downturn," Persic said. "In these times, you see library use go up and people turn to the library to get the resources and information they need for free."

Elizabeth Mejia, for example, uses the library's computers to search for employment opportunities. The recent reduction in hours has made it difficult for her to find a good time to come.

"It's hard because they open so late and close so early now, which also makes it difficult to find a babysitter for my kids," Mejia said.  

Henry Mercado, who has been going to the library for the last 40 years, said the Encino-Tarzana branch has a pretty good selection of movies and enjoys being able to check them out for free. He is also struggling with the recent change in hours. 

"The Friday hours are hard because I want to rent a video for the weekend and since they aren't open on Monday, you have this long weekend and you can only rent some videos for two days," Mercado said.

Branch senior librarian David Hagopian explained that the schedule changes have also become an inconvenience for people who work or attend school during the day.

"They may be able to only come into the library on say a Wednesday night and now we are no longer opened then," Hagopian said. 

The Encino-Tarzana Library has not had to cut back on programs or services, but it did have to lay off one messenger clerk. Hagopian said he's trying to stay optimistic about the future of the library.

"The library is a pretty awesome place and we're here to serve and help people find information," Hagopian said. "We do what we can so people have a great time when they come in and continue to want to use the library."

The Encino-Tarzana Library is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed Mondays and Sundays.

You can also access other library resources from home at www.lapl.org.

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