17 September, 2009

Philadelphia libraries closing

Free Public Library of Philadelphia Central Library

This is the sort of news that no one expects to hear - as reported on the Free Library of Philadelphia's website

All Free Library of Philadelphia Branch, Regional and Central Libraries Closed Effective Close of Business October 2, 2009

We deeply regret to inform you that without the necessary budgetary legislation by the State Legislature in Harrisburg, the City of Philadelphia will not have the funds to operate our neighborhood branch libraries,regional libraries, or the Parkway Central Library after October 2,2009.

This is not some small rural library system, it is a major library with 54 branches and a collection of over 6 million items that has been established since 1892.

The Wikipedia article on the library says:

Among the Free Library's exemplary collections is the Print and Picture Collection. Spanning the graphic arts from 1493 to the present time, the Free Library's Fine Art Prints and Photographs collection includes thousands of images. Initially representing only Philadelphia artists, the collection has been extended to include early masters as well as renowned modern printmakers and photographers. You can view prints by such artists as Dürer, Rembrandt, Warhol and Dali. Some of the photographers include Ansel Adams, Bernice Abbott,Ray Metzker, Eadweard Muybridge and Aaron Siskind.

In May Siobhan Reardon, President and Director of the library addressed the City Council on the impact of budget cuts and said:

While some may think of the library as an institution that simply lends books, we are in fact a multi-disciplinary, cradle-to-grave institution that serves teens, entrepreneurs, older adults, new immigrants, job seekers, young children, and employers, among so many others. And, as the economy declines and unemployment rises, we are seeing increased demand for our services. Two areas – employment support and drop-out prevention – are of particular importance in these times.

Obviously, this testimony about the vital and highly valued services offered by the library did not have the required result. Having undergone already significant cuts in the past year, the Library Board and Director decided that there was no longer sufficient funding to keep their doors open. Let us hope that the various levels of government step in to stop this major library service closing.

1 comment:

Christine Mackenzie said...

ps news just in Philadelphia libraries in danger of closing are now safe. [Seattle Books Examiner]