Friday, December 19, 2008

Help to stop the closing of 11 library branches in Philadelphia

I'm a strong supporter of public libraries, not to mention the fact that my mother is a librarian for almost three decades. Unfortunately libraries are also taking the hit of the economic slowdown, including in Philadelphia where 11 Library Branches are slated for closure at the end of the day on December 31st.

Friends of the Free Library Philadelphia, an independent, non-profit organization whose mission is to support the Free Library of Philadelphia, is leading a struggle to keep these branches open. We would like to share with you an email with an update (including an important call for action) we received on this matter from fellow SBN member, Ruth Schanbacher. The email Ruth forwarded us was written by Amy Dougherty, Executive Director, Friends of the Free Library.

So here it is:
Dear Library Friends and Supporters:

Eleven Library Branches are slated for closure at the end of the day on December 31st. The city's financial crisis is of real concern. However, as reported on NBC News, the demand for library services and the number of library card holders are up 40%, reaching an all time high. The Friends of the Free Library of Philadelphia and our affiliate Friends Groups believe that we should and can share in the sacrifice by reducing library operations equally throughout the entire 54 branch system through the current school year and not permanently shutter these 11 branches. We believe that this is a more equitable and viable option to solving this crisis and one that does not target low income households, children, students of all ages, the elderly, and job seekers in communities where unemployment, poverty, and illiteracy and those living on the wrong side of the digital divide are among the nation's highest.

My op-ed on the front page of the Currents Section in Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer, Alternatives to Closings, and the endorsement by the editorial board on page C4, Schools and Libraries: Those Nagging Details, describe why we should not support such a hasty, behind closed doors decision. Instead, we want to do our part and are pleading for time to help the city to preserve our wonderful library system that is a true American story and belongs to all of us.
We ask you now to write to the Mayor and voice your opinion.

Mayor Michael Nutter
City Hall, Room 215
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Phone: 215.686.2181
Fax: 215.686.2180
E-mail: or send a message via the web:

I truly hope that these branches will stay open and urge everyone to get into the website of Friends of the Free Library Philadelphia ( for further information and updates.

Below you can find a video from the Friends of the Free Library Philadelphia's website on the rally that took place two weeks ago (Dec 6):


Raz @ Eco-Libris