The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

L.A. libraries show how things could be different

Dec 12, 2005

Over the last 15 years, the City of Los Angeles has been modernizing its libraries. Sixteen branches have been renovated and 47 new ones have either been built or are in construction.

The new libraries were designed to be inviting places. For once, officials in charge of the project organized neighborhood meetings to get the residents’ input about sites and designs. And they completed the program under budget, leaving money for five additional libraries that were not planned initially.

In fact, the entire cost of the program, 317 million dollars, is less than 10% of what the U.S. spends for the occupation of Iraq EVERY MONTH!

People have responded. Library usage in L.A. has increased by 70% over the last decade – four times faster than the national rate.

This success of the L.A. libraries may not be an earth-shaking event, but it certainly stands out at a time when local governments are busy cutting such services.

But don’t hold your breath waiting for politicians to spend money on our needs.

The L.A. libraries were built only because L.A. voters decided to tax themselves additionally to finance them – voting through bond measures in 1989 and 1998.

Unfortunately, the population is not given the right to vote down taxes that go to subsidizing big corporations or paying for wars!