Thursday, March 4, 2010

a love for Ray Bradbury, and for libraries

The little library down the street is small, but handily located within walking distance from our house. It also has a nice little park, as well as ice cream trucks and food trucks that come around daily. When we moved to Los Angeles four years ago, it was exciting to discover how great the L.A. library system is. Although I went to the library every week as a child (on the East coast), I hadn't been a regular patron for years. Thanks to the never-ending resources and modern conveniences of our city's libraries, however, a love for going to the library was reborn.

It sort of blows my mind that you can borrow books for free--that this institution relies on nothing more than your word that you'll bring their goods back to them. I love that you can order books from other branches, that you can return your books to any location, that you can easily renew things online, and that they are constantly coming up with interesting programs to keep their readers engaged.

Just last week, living legend Ray Bradbury came to talk about books, writing, and the importance of libraries in his own life. He explained that he could not afford to go to college, but found a free education by visiting a library three times a week for ten years. It's where he wrote and researched many of his books (some in our own little library, as he went to high school right across the street) as well as the source of some of his greatest joy. He even married a librarian.

Meeting Ray Bradbury, whose books I have enjoyed for over 20 years, meant so much to me. I can think of few other people that I would be this excited about meeting (and I've been kissed by a Bond and a Batman!) and I have our own wonderful little library to thank for it.

I was shocked to find out that the city is now considering drastically reducing the budget for its library system. The hours have already been reduced this year, but further budget cuts would mean even fewer hours, possible branch closures, fewer new books, and less programming. Providing information and resources, as well as instilling a love of learning, is a critical function the library provides that cannot and will not be replaced if the city moves forward with this action. In a city where many children and adults can't afford to enjoy going to museums and concerts or patronizing bookstores, the library provides one of the most important sources of enrichment to a person's education, no matter what his age.

Please do what you can to help your own library systems. Borrow books and dvds. Buy books from their used books sales. Bring in art supplies and donate items your local branch may need. Become a friend of the library. Bring children, bring neighbors, bring co-workers, bring friends.

And for Angelenos, please consider:
--writing to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa by copying this sample letter and emailing it to
--writing to your council member copying this sample letter and emailing it to the appropriate party
--join the library's Save the LAPL Facebook page and follow them on Twitter @SaveTheLibrary.
You can also start a petition or help in many other ways.

L.A. libraries--and its residents--need more support and resources, not less. Please do what you can to help.
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