Free Library Feels Pain of State Cuts, Asks For Help
With all the cuts to welfare, health and schools in Pennsylvania, the library drain has gone mostly under the radar. But under the proposed state budget, the libraries may have lost as much as $330,000 in funds—and here, that’s on top of big city budget cuts. And today, the library sent out an urgent email message noting those cuts and asking the public for help:
As we approach the end of the fiscal year, it’s become clear that recent, substantial cuts to Free Library funding are likely to affect the future of treasured programs and services. The Library’s budget, still recovering from a 20% reduction in City support, was also hit by a succession of State funding cuts.
How these financial challenges will affect popular programs like One Book, One Philadelphia, LEAP after-school programming, or the long-standing Summer Reading and science programs that you’ve undoubtedly read about through our Know How email series will be determined in the next few weeks.
The message then goes on to ask for a donation for these reasons. It’s signed by President and Director of the Library Siobhan A. Reardon, and notes “the Free Library is counting on you!”
The Philadelphia Free Library has already been operating with an underfunded budget and threats over the last few years of closure. A recent Pew Charitable Trusts’ Philadelphia Research Initiative report titled The Library in the City: Changing Demands and a Challenging Future reported that the Free Library is “struggling to keep up with…broad and growing range of demands.” The study also found Philadelphia’s library usage up 11 percent between 2005 ad 2011, which was below several cities, like Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Seattle and Baltimore. The low rise in library usage, it was noted in the report, was partially due to the “extraordinary number of times that branches have experienced temporary, unscheduled closings in the past few years.”
Governor Corbett proposed a 5 percent cut for the Public Library Subsidy in his initial budget, which has been restored. However, Library Access, Library Services for the Visually Impaired & Disabled, and the State Library are all likely to be cut 5 percent.