On November 8, 2008, four days after the election of Barack Obama, first year Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia announced the closings of 11 branch libraries as part of an attempt to balance the city budget in face of declining revenues.
Mayor Nutter has been met with determined resistance from the city wide Friends of the Free Library, led by executive director Amy Dougherty, and the Friends of the Free Library groups at each of the 11 branch libraries and at most branch libraries around the city.
While the Friends of the Free Library have made clear their strong preference was for no library cuts at all, they have announced that they would favor reduction of hours at all libraries as against shutting some down.
As a state legislator in whose district two of the eleven libraries shut down are located, I have been an active public spokesperson against the library closings.
One of the libraries to be shut down, the David Cohen Ogontz Library, is named for my late father, the longest serving Philadelphia Councilman at Large in the city's history. It is named for him because of his passionate activism for its creation over a thirty-five year period spanning six mayoral administrations.