To accommodate Shabbat-observant patrons, the Robertson branch of the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) has changed its weekend hours. Located in the heavily Jewish neighborhood of Pico-Robertson, the branch is now open from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays and closed on Saturdays.
The change took effect on April 10, marking the first time that any library branch has been open on a Sunday since April 2010, when $22 million cut from the library’s annual budget forced a drastic reduction in service. All 73 Los Angeles libraries have been closed on Mondays as well since last July.
“If you’re observant, you can’t go on Saturdays, and it’s closed on Sundays, so we thought it would make more sense to at least have one library, hopefully close to a large concentration of observant Jews, that was open on Sunday instead,” City Councilman Paul Koretz said. Koretz, whose district includes the Robertson Branch, proposed the change to the Library Board of Commissioners, which unanimously approved the change in February.
Because of union-negotiated contracts that pay library employees time-and-a-half for working on Sundays, it costs as much to keep the Robertson Branch open for four hours on Sundays as it did to keep it open for almost twice as long (10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.) on Saturdays, LAPL spokesman Peter Persic said.
In March 2011, voters approved Measure L, which forces the city to allocate a larger share of property-tax monies to libraries. That is expected to restore hours at branches across the city, albeit slowly. Monday hours are set to be restored first, Persic said, and the Robertson branch could remain the only branch open on Sundays until at least 2014.
Ideally, Koretz said, he would support the opening of a second library branch near an Orthodox neighborhood in the Valley. Barring that, he hopes it won’t take three years to restore Sunday hours at the Central Library downtown. “I would think that it would be logical to keep the main library open seven days a week,” Koretz said.