Philly’s Near Loss of its Entire Library System
In 1731 Benjamin Franklin created the Library Company of Philadelphia, the first subscription service library and the predecessor to today’s ubiquitous lending library system. The Library Company of Philadelphia company, which still exists and serves the community with its impressive collection of books as well lectures, exhibitions, and conferences, was the result of pure altruism on the part of Franklin and his society friends. With the knowledge that no one patron could buy the library’s books alone, he and his privileged circle bought the first collection of books together at a time when scholarly texts were rare outside Europe.
Given this inspirational start, one would think the Philadelphia library system would be above any kind of fiscal trimming, no matter how bad the recession. This turned out to be false as news developed over the last few months that if the city did not come to an agreement over its budget, it would shut down all free public libraries, city-wide on Oct. 2. As reported in publisher’s weekly, this meant the deletion of “community programs (including after-school activities for children) and the discontinuation of ESL and GED courses—an especially unwelcome prospect for a city in which four hundred thousand adults still lack high school diplomas.” Additionally, it was reported that “the system called an end to interlibrary loans and put a reduced borrowing period into effect: All library materials are now due October 1.”
It’s simply stunning that a city’s entire library system can be put up on the chopping block. It’s very possible that the importance of the library system in the city with the first library was used as bate to come to an agreement, but still. Luckily, three days ago, a budget was agreed upon and the so-called “doomsday” scenario was narrowly averted. If the budget was not settled upon, the city was prepared to cut 3000 jobs in addition to shutting down the libraries. The budget bill, number 1828, was passed in the state senate by a vote of 32-17.
via FLP – Thank You!