Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

September 11, 2009


Philadelphia Free Library - 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. Specifically, the following will take effect after the close of business, October 2, 2009: All branch and regional library programs, including programs for children and teens, after school programs, computer classes, and programs for adults, will be cancelled All Parkway Central Library programs, including children programs, programs to support small businesses and job seekers, computer classes and after school programs, will be cancelled. . . All library visits to schools, day care centers, senior centers and other community centers will cease. . . All community meetings at our branch and regional libraries, and the Parkway Central Library, will be cancelled. . . All GED, ABE and ESL programs held at Free Library branches will be discontinued, students should contact their teacher to see if other arrangements are being made. In addition, all library materials will be due on October 1, 2009. This will result in a diminishing borrowing period for books and other library materials, beginning September 11, 2009. No library materials will be able to be borrowed after September 30, 2009.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lack of bud? I'm pretty sure there's plenty of it around. Maybe if you legalize and tax it, you can use the revenue to run your libraries.

September 12, 2009 1:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sold our Bud to the damn Belgians, and now there's a drought in Phillie . . . couldn't they drink Coors' during this emergency?

September 12, 2009 3:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder how many hours (minutes?) worth of the Iraq/Afghanistan wars would pay for a year's worth of library system operation? We sure know our priorities, don't we?

This is a national disgrace.

September 12, 2009 11:11 AM  
Blogger m said...

I have seen stats that claim only 6% of the US population buys a book in a year, and that only 2% buys more than one. I don't have much idea of the truth of that statement.

But by direct experience I do know that about 25% of the 18-26 male population of a major segment of NC, was totally or functionally illiterate around the 70s. Some were only able to mark an X as their signature. I have heard that the literacy rate has not improved significantly, except for those who have migrated from the North and West.

I now live in a fairly well educated area of NY, where 30% of the population have Bachelor degrees, and 12.5% have professional or graduate degrees.

Yet the local political apparatus closed the library in 2005, when there was no significant financial emergency. How much support is there for libraries amongst politicians in general? Which of course means how much support is there amongst the population for books and reading?

Given such data, I suspect that the 6% and 2% figures given at the top are at least within reason.

September 13, 2009 10:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's the story as reported in Sunday's Inky:


There is some disagreement over this, but it should be noted that historians generally credit the first public lending library in the US was organized in 1731 by a Philadelphia printer named Benjamin Franklin.

No doubt Franklin was some radical socialist without a birth certificate bent on increasing his printing profits at the public expense, but opinions do vary...

Ironic, isn't it?


September 14, 2009 10:07 AM  
Anonymous Mairead said...

A little anecdote.

About 7 years ago, in a city in western Massachusetts, people woke up one morning to find that, overnight, several of their branch libraries had been summarily closed, the staff sacked, and the buildings put up for sale.

It emerged that the tax-supported library system was owned by a group of elites who didn't live in or have any connection with the city other than to take money from it. (Their role was technically some sort of trusteeship, but "owned" is probably the best word to use given the power they were allowed to arrogate to themselves.)

One middle-aged local woman was so incensed at the closures that she practically went into orbit. She immediately kickstarted a resistance group, another one jumped in and used her commercial-art background to make some very annoying, rabble-rousing posters, the then-current city council started getting Dickensian feelings about what their failure to ever hold the elites accountable might mean, and the upshot of it all was that the elites "gave" the city the library system in return for not being taken to court for unjust enrichment, fiduciary irresponsibility, trust violations, and malicious lingering.

So arseholes can be overcome, or at least stopped. It just takes a "small group of thoughtful, committed citizens", to quote Margaret Mead.

September 16, 2009 11:31 AM  

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