City libraries facing shorter hours

Nine of the main Los Angeles libraries face Sunday closures and more than 60 branches will shorten hours because of recent losses in personnel.

The Board of Library Commissioners voted Thursday on a plan suggesting Sunday closures for the Central Library downtown and the eight regional libraries.  Branch libraries are already closed on Sundays.

The plan would also close all of the city’s libraries at 6 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays, and the eight regional libraries would open at noon rather than 10 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

A program that offered workers the opportunity to retire up to five years early with full benefits will leave the city understaffed starting in early April, when 107 library employees are expected to leave.

“We can barely get by,” Roy Stone, president of the Librarian’s Guild AFSCME Local 2626, told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday.

According to the Times, because of a citywide hiring freeze, about 8 percent of the positions in the city’s 1,132-employee library department are vacant.

With the city facing a budget gap of $485 million and as many as 4,000 job cuts next fiscal year, further reductions in library hours are expected.  City Councilman Tom LaBonge said city officials will continue to explore options to ensure libraries stay open during their busiest hours, which he said are 3:30 p.m. to closing.