Philadelphia is Closing All Of Its Libraries

A sad and shocking statement about the closing of all branches of the Free Library of Philadelphia from President and Director Siobhan Reardon.

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.

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.

Little story in the Philadelphia Inquirer, implying (I think) that the closing message might be a marketing ploy of some sort.


Article headline is misleading. The libraries *may* close if the state doesn't give the city funding. Just another money grab with a shocking headline...politicians are particularly good at this.

Are you serious?! Even if it is a ploy to get money the bottom line is that libraries don't get the funding they need. Libraries and Librarians provide a public service to people FOR FREE!!!! If we the people let our libraries close then we are doing an injustice to future generations. It boils down to the fact that both libraries and librarians are undervalued. In Canada the government got rid of librarians and within a few years they realized that they needed them desperately and hired them all back. Maybe people need to take a stand and start donating more money to libraries so they don't lose them.

Do not think the library is free even for a second. Calling it "free" is a convenient marketing technique, but does not reflect the reality and the value of the library.

We all know plenty of us pay tens of thousands per year to ILS companies. Then there's rent, maintenance, utilities, and of course salaries and wages inadequate as they sometimes are. There is also the cost of books, movies, databases, office supplies. After it's added together, we often work for a surprisingly large "business."

Take a look at the annual budget and you will find as worthwhile as it may be, it is not an amount that should be given without thinking.

The name of the library is the Free Library of Philadelphia. I somehow doubt that those who chose that name were trying to fool residents into thinking that the institution didn't have a budget.

Public libraries are free in the same very important way that most parks, roads, fire departments and police departments are free: They are prepaid parts of the common good, free at the time of need. It's not marketing; it's reality.

I dunno: Maybe there are people out there literate enough to use libraries and ignorant enough to believe that libraries don't cost anything to build and operate. I doubt that there are many of them.

I think this comes back to the GNU/FSF wrangling over what "free" software is. The Free Library of Philadelphia is freely accessible to all who get over the transom rather than it being a members only institution. Like the creation of open source projects such as Ardour (see FLOSS Weekly #86), it is not without cost to operate.
Stephen Michael Kellat, MSLS

If this closing actually happens what a horible tragedy & loss of unlimited learning for the people of Philadelphia. If this is a ploy to gain funding it is even more disturbing and sad!

Even if it is a ploy, it still doesn't make it false. It's a reminder of what is at stake. Don't be knee-jerk.

A cat has commented on what is happening with the Philadelphia libraries.

The Free Public Library system is one of the best uses of my tax dollars. Inside a library, anyone can learn about anything. The books don't have to be approved by the state. YOU don't have to be approved by anyone to sit in a library and drink of the knowledge of the ages. Even if closing the libraries is just a "ploy" to get money... what a scary ploy. How can we all just sit here and go, "Oh yes, that's fine. Close down our libraries. No biggie. We have the internet."

You have to understand that a library is more than just a place where you can check out a free book. A library is the keeper of the knowledge. It is a place in the community where knowledge is important. A place where there is agreement that knowledge is power. It is a place where you can meet. It is a safe place for your children to go after school. It is a symbol that we are a free nation with free ideas and free speech. Libraries don't cost that much to run. Out of the billions and TRILLIONS that are being spent on destructive programs and bailouts, how can there not be enough money to keep the lights on in our libraries?

You must ask yourself.... "Who would benefit from a population that doesn't have access to knowledge?"

People of Philly.... have you lost sight of what Freedom consists of? Ensure your libraries stay open and free!

Amen to everything that you said!!!

If I remember correctly - historically, the first US libraries required that you purchase a membership before you could use the library. Philadelphia was one of the first publically supported libraries.

'The books don't have to be approved by the state. YOU don't have to be approved by anyone to sit in a library and drink of the knowledge of the ages'

Well thats not totally true. I'm sure Philladelphia bans certain books, especially when relligious nutjobs take offense at gay penguins or whatever. Someone makes the choices, it might not be the 'state' but a states representative or a library committe representing the state.
And if you don't conform to the rules of the library (attire, smells, behaviour) you won't be allowed in/to stay.

But I know what you mean.