March 22, 2012
A celebration was held Wednesday at Ramona Gardens in Boyle Heights to mark the opening of a new satellite library at the public housing complex.
The new library means children will no longer have to trek to the nearest public library in Boyle Heights, announced the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA).
On March 3, 50 people from UCLA’s Volunteer Center, joined HACLA staff and partner organizations, as part of its One Bus, One Cause initiative, to paint, decorate and stock the new library in preparation for its grand opening, according to HACLA.
However, the work to open the onsite library began in December 2011, after HACLA discovered that youth living in the housing complex were hesitant to use the local public library, out of fear of gang activity, the HACLA press release states.
According to Legacy LA Executive Director Lou Calanche, whose organization provides services to at-risk kids in the community, Ramona Gardens’ children face a threat of violence when trying to go to the Malabar Library.
“The Ramona Gardens community has to cross the bridge that goes over the 10 Freeway to get to the library. Unfortunately, there is a rival gang on the other side. This gang doesn’t care if the kids are not gang members because they know they are coming from Ramona Gardens…” Calanche told EGP by email earlier this month.
The new library will contain about 5,000 donated books; 3,000 were donated by Scholastic Inc. The Los Angeles Public Library donated more than 2,000 books, and HACLA employees donated several hundred, according to the Housing Authority. LA Public Library will also implement a literacy program for toddlers in the new facility.
“Public and private sector partners answered our call for assistance on this project,” HACLA said in a March 3 press release.
The library was opened as part of the Housing Authority’s Education Initiative titled “Step-Up!” which aims to provide public housing youth with building blocks for a brighter future, according to the HACLA.