CSULA People’s Library

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Cal State L.A. students Stephanie Velasquez and Karla Chitay were stymied recently when they headed to the university library to study for a final exam: The facility had closed at 8 p.m. just before they arrived.

But a few feet away, scores of students were bent over laptops and textbooks in a makeshift open air study area. There was a copy machine and a printer. Coffee, free of charge, was brewing as a late evening chill began to descend. Velasquez, 25, and Chitay, 22, found a table.

“We came to the library straight from class and when we found it closed, we were like ‘oh no, what are we going to do,'” said Velasquez, who, like Chitay, is a social work major. “We wanted to study together but we live on opposite sides of town and needed a space. This is great.”

Since it opened June 1, the so-called “People’s Library” has been available until midnight each day. It was organized by a group of students after administrators curtailed regular library hours this year because of state budget cuts.

Organizers contend that reduced access to library resources was affecting students’ studies, especially in the run-up to this week’s final exams. So they gathered donated chairs and tables and have been using campus electrical hookups for lighting and equipment just outside the university’s main library.

“We’re studying in resistance,” one of the organizers, Laura Tejeda, 19, said this week as she urged passers-by to sign a petition for longer library hours. Tejeda works at the university library’scirculation desk. “We weren’t sure if people were going to come out in the cold evenings. But we’ve had big turnouts every night.”

Organizers said Cal State administrators at first threatened to close down the alternative operation and briefly turned off its electricity. Campus spokesman Sean Kearns said students launched the effort without warning and facility officials had initial concerns.

They helped the students address safety issues such as securing electrical cords and there have been no incidents, Kearns said.

more at LA Times.

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