While night clubs and restaurants may be losing clients to the recession, the friendly neighborhood library is filling up with patrons. But not all people are there for the love of books.
Free to the public, libraries' Wi-Fi services, computer stations and DVDs are drawing people in, especially those who have been recently laid off and are looking to save cash or even get help securing a job.
"I had high-speed Internet but I cut back on my cable because it's over $100 with the Internet and the movie channels. But it's good to use the free facilities [at the library] because then you save a dollar or two and that's a good thing," said Lisa Jackson, a financial analyst from Burbank who was recently laid off.
Jackson used to come to the Hyde Park Branch Library only occasionally, but now she spends at least an hour here every day, searching online for jobs.
The American Library Association reports that Los Angeles public libraries had 18 million visitors in 2008, 2 million more than the previous year.
Librarian Miriam Touchton at the Hyde Park Branch Library said she has seen many more people visiting the library in the past six months. Most patrons, she said, ask for help in writing resumes or correcting them. Others want to put their resume on the employment Web site Monster.com and want to know how to edit it. A lot of people also ask the library staff for help in filling unemployment insurance, Touchton said.
Nearby, at the Ascot Branch Library, librarian Daniel Edelman is thinking of adding resume-writing classes to his existing computer literacy classes. "Some people may have never written a resume before and they need some guidance in how to put one together," he said.
Blair Robinson, a regular visitor at the library, said it's becoming increasingly difficult to find unoccupied computers these days. "This library closes at 6 p.m. every day. It should stay open a lot longer," she said.
Some patrons like Jackson said libraries in South Los Angeles need more resources. She said the Burbank library is a little more updated than the one in Hyde Park she currently visits. "Here, you can't visit some Web sites because of insufficient software in the computers and sometimes you can't open PDF formats. In Burbank, the atmosphere is controlled; here, the kids sometimes come to socialize, not to study."