Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Philadelphia Library System Closing?

I want to think this is a hoax, like Orson Welles' broadcast in 1938 of War of the Worlds, but it looks like it's for real:

ABC's Lisa Chinn reports from Washington: The public library in Philadelphia may be closing its doors permanently. It would be the first closure of a public library in a major American city. The library is the sixth largest public library in the nation, and its precursor, the Library Company of Philadelphia, created by Benjamin Franklin, was the first public library in the United States.

Words fail me...


  1. wow. how appalling.
    i had no idea things
    were this bad for
    public literacy. damn.

  2. Turns out the state gave them the money they needed two days after I posted this. Was the crisis real, or was the hoopla a ploy to ensure that they'd get enough votes to get that money?

    From http://libwww.freelibrary.org/blog/index.cfm?srch=2&month=9&year=2009 (halfway down the page), on September 17:

    Just minutes ago, the Pennsylvania State senate passed bill 1828 by a vote of 32 to 17. For all of you who have been following the saga over the city's budget crisis, this is indeed the legislation that was needed for the City of Philadelphia to avoid the "Doomsday" Plan C budget scenario, which would have resulted in the layoff of 3,000 city employees and forced the closing of all libraries.

    We are enormously grateful to everyone who advocated on our behalf. More than 2,000 letters to state legislators were collected from our libraries, and countless others made calls and sent emails underscoring how important public libraries are to the economic, educational and social life of our city. We also thank our incredible library staff, who despite the threat of imminent layoffs continued to provide excellent service to the thousands of people who use one of the 54 libraries in our system.