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A Day in the Life of a Teenager Visiting the Los Angeles Public Library

posted Mar 26, 2010, 12:14 PM by Henry Gambill   [ updated Mar 26, 2010, 12:20 PM ]

A teenager walks into his local branch. He knows that he needs to do a report on Alice Walker’s A Color Purple, so he starts looking around for his Young Adult Librarian. He first met the YA when the librarian visited his school and now the YA knows him by his name and always says hello when he visits the branch. So, he tracks him down and the YA finds him a paperback copy of A Color Purple and two non-fiction source materials. At the bookstore, the three items would cost a total of $75.00, but at the library his parents only have to pay less than a penny a year.

He needs to get cracking on his homework, but let’s get real: Facebook is more fun. So, the young man uses his library card to log on to a public computer. On Facebook, he receives a message from his brother who is at band practice. He needs a copy of the Red Badge of Courage, so the teenager hunts down the paperback in the Young Adult Classics section. The teenager would have to pay about $9.00-$10.00 hour to use a computer elsewhere, and at the bookstore another $8.00-$10.00 for the paperback, but at the library his parents only have to pay less than a penny a year.

He logs off, finds a study table and works about an hour on his homework. Then he looks up and sees his YA standing next to him. The librarian reminds him that the scheduled poetry program is about to begin and wouldn’t it be nice if he joined. After all, the young man, as a member of the branch’s Teen Council, had helped select and plan this event. In the community room, there are ten other teens waiting for the program to begin. If admission was charged, each teen would have to pay $15.00 apiece to cover all expenses, but at the library his parents only have to pay less than a penny a year.

The program is fun and interactive. Afterwards, the teenager notices a copy of Tupac Shakur’s book of poems on display (the YA sets up a book display at all programs). Tupac Shakur is one of the boy’s favorite recording artists, and he had no idea that the rapper had published poetry, so he grabs it and checks it out with his library card. At the bookstore, the book would cost over $20.00, but at the library his parents only have to pay less than a penny a year.

Back to homework. Near the end of the afternoon, the teenager remembers that his grandmother had asked him to look for a copy of the latest Denzel Washington DVD. He looks for it on the DVD shelves, finds it, sees another DVD that she would probably like and checks both of them out. It would cost $10.00 at Blockbuster to rent the same titles, but at the library his parents only have to pay less than a penny a year.

On his way home, the teenager does not know that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s budget proposal has labeled the library as “non-essential,” but this “non-essential” service has kept the boy off the streets and safe all afternoon long and saved his family approximately $140.00.

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