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Source: Daily Bruin By Editorial Board Posted: February 28, 2011 1:30 am

Life in the UCLA bubble can make it hard for students to understand the impact of citywide issues.

In the upcoming March 8 municipal elections, Los Angeles voters, including thousands of UCLA students, will be asked to support a measure to increase the city’s contribution to the library system’s budget. The conveniently named Measure L will increase the percentage of the city’s tax revenue that goes to libraries by about 70 percent over the course of four years while not raising taxes. The measure also calls for the system to eventually assume full responsibility for all of its direct and indirect costs.

The board is proud to endorse such a measure to preserve and in fact improve the city’s libraries. UCLA students have the option of utilizing the university’s own libraries, and often do not use Los Angeles’. However, the preservation of and investment in a quality system of continuing education is important to the health of any community.

We recognize that reallocation of city funds will force something else to be cut in the face of increasing expenditures for the library. Costs of the library are already low, at 0.0175 percent of the assessed value of all property in the city; the measure will eventually raise the system’s allocation to 0.03 percent. It will also require that the system shoulder both direct and indirect costs, making the library’s budget handle all of its future expenditures.

Libraries are a vital part of both community life and education. As UCLA students, we must all agree on the importance of libraries in guiding our path to a prestigious university. If it weren’t for our hometown library, would we be here? With systemwide closures on Sundays and Mondays, children are denied access to these centers of learning two days a week. The measure would open most libraries for six days; regional libraries could be open seven days a week.

The city’s libraries are central to the existence of a community.

Students, homeowners and local merchants have bemoaned the loss of community in Westwood Village ““ more robust libraries would go further to enhance life in Westwood.

UCLA already has a massive cultural dent in Westwood; residents who live south of Wilshire Boulevard are more detached from UCLA’s cultural center, and the branch library could be more useful to that community.

Chain coffee shops can replicate some of the appeal of a library, but they only go so far. Libraries are more than just a nice place with comfortable couches ““ they offer a space for anything from quiet study to in-depth research.

Measure L is a practical reallocation of city revenues to something that serves a valuable purpose both by bringing folks together and providing continuing education. Good libraries got us here; we should make sure they’re around to do the same for future generations.