Wow! I have written often about the financial problems of various libraries all around the country, but this announcement is the biggest shut-down I have beard of to date. All Free Library of Philadelphia branch, regional and central libraries will close permanently at the end of the business day on October 2, 2009. The shut-down is "permanent" unless new funding is found.
City residents and others will lose more than 6 million items, ranging from books and magazines to art, music, film, and other media, as well as a number of special collections.
I wonder what Ben Franklin would say?
The following is a quote from the Free Library's web site at http://libwww.freelibrary.org/closing/:
All Free Library of Philadelphia Customers,
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.
Specifically, the following will take effect after the close of business, October 2, 2009:
- All branch and regional library programs, including programs for children and teens, after school programs, computer classes, and programs for adults, will be cancelled
- All Parkway Central Library programs, including children programs, programs to support small businesses and job seekers, computer classes and after school programs, will be cancelled. We are exploring the possibility of relocating the Philadelphia Author Series programs to other non-library facilities.
- All library visits to schools, day care centers, senior centers and other community centers will cease.
- All community meetings at our branch and regional libraries, and the Parkway Central Library, will be cancelled.
- All GED, ABE and ESL programs held at Free Library branches will be discontinued, students should contact their teacher to see if other arrangements are being made.
In addition, all library materials will be due on October 1, 2009. This will result in a diminishing borrowing period for books and other library materials, beginning September 11, 2009. No library materials will be able to be borrowed after September 30, 2009.
Even as we remain hopeful that the State Legislature will act and pass the enabling funding legislation, we wanted to notify all of our customers of this very possible outcome. If you have any questions about impacts to Free Library services, call 215-686-5322, or visit the Free Library of Philadelphia website at www.freelibrary.org. If you have questions about changes to City services, or if you want to be kept informed about this situation, we encourage you to contact Philly 311 by calling 3-1-1 between the hours of 8am and 8 pm Monday-Friday, and 9am-5pm Saturdays, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the City of Philadelphia website at http://www.phila.gov.
We thank you for your understanding, patience, and continued support of the Free Library of Philadelphia during these difficult times.
Siobhan Reardon, President and Director, Free Library of Philadelphia