Angry library lovers march on Philadelphia City Hall, demand more funding

Pat Loeb
December 12, 2018 - 8:27 pm

Pat Loeb/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- More than a hundred Friends of the Philadelphia Free Library marched to the mayor's office, Wednesday, to demand more funding for libraries throughout the city.

Anilda Davila is a retired teacher who spends a lot of time at the Lillian Marrero Library, in Kensington.

She calls it a source of pride, hope and personal growth for the community and it pains her to see the staff stretched thin, so she hand-delivered a petition for more funding.

“Our libraries have long acted as a safe haven for the most vulnerable Philadelphians: Children, elders, the LGBT community, immigrant communities, formerly incarcerated individuals, those experiencing homelessness and many others use the library as a crucial means to improving their quality of life,” she said. “When libraries are underfunded, it's an injustice whose impact is felt by every neighborhood, in every corner of the city.”

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The mayor was not available, but sent a deputy, Deb Mahler.

“I appreciate all your hard work,” she said. “Thank you,”

The library's budget was slashed in the recession of 2008, which caused an uproar, and Friends member Caroline Whaley says it's never really recovered.

“As a result, libraries are understaffed and experiencing unexpected closures across the city,” she said.

Only 35 of 54 branches have Saturday hours. A statement from the mayor says he's restored funding to pre-recession levels but the Friends argue that, ten years later, that amount ($49 Million) is equivalent to a 17 percent decrease.

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