Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Old Ben is Rolling in His Grave

Another casualty of the financial situation, budget shortfalls, or perhaps simply a gambit by the city to get more money from the state? Whatever it is, this recent posting on the Philadelphia Free Library website is rather distressing:

All Free Library of Philadelphia Branch, Regional and Central Libraries Closed Effective Close of Business October 2, 2009

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.

Read the entire letter...

If you read the whole letter, it's stunning the impact this system-wide closing will have. This isn't simply about people being able to check out books for free. It's after-school programs, programs for seniors, small business programs, support for those seeking jobs, computer classes, and so much more.

How sad. Let's all appreciate the irony that the city that saw the creation of the first public library in America (founded by Ben Franklin) will have no libraries in less than 3 weeks. Oh, and if this is the city playing financial chicken with the state, can we all agree that it's a reprehensible tactic?

I feel for the people of Philadelphia and count myself lucky that I live in a town that, despite nay-sayers and many who failed to recognize the long-term value, went ahead and invested in the updating and expansion of the town library. In doing so, they created a jewel in the state's library system and a new center for culture and community in town.

I grew up going to the library constantly and still do. Every time I go into the Rogers Free Library, the computers are full of kids working on school projects, adults searching for jobs or doing research, people browsing the stacks, and others curled up in chairs by the wide windows immersed in books. The idea of losing that resource in our small town would be heartbreaking. The idea of losing every library in a city like Philadelphia? It must be devastating.

Thanks to Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing for spotting this as well as for his impassioned response.

1 comment:

matthew houskeeper said...

I don't know if I am more angry or sad.