City seeks library help from unlikely source

    Philadelphia officials have been asking the public to help keep recreation opportunities like pools and ice rinks, open despite city budget problems. Today, city and library officials announced a book drive to supply reading materials to the more than 60,000 local children who participate in the Library’s Summer Reading Program.

    Philadelphia officials have been asking the public to help keep recreation opportunities like pools and ice rinks, open despite city budget problems. Today, city and library officials announced a book drive to supply reading materials to the more than 60,000 local children who participate in the Library’s Summer Reading Program. Library officials say the economic downturn, has forced the Library to cut its book acquisition budget by 25-percent.
    Caption: Philadelphia 76er Andre Iguodala talks about reading while Free Library President Siobhan Reardon looks on.
    Listen:
    [audio: reports20090414library.mp3]

    Philly Phanatic and Free Library President Siobhan Reardon.
    Philly Phanatic and Free Library President Siobhan Reardon.

    Months ago, many Philadelphians rallied to oppose the city’s plan to close library branches during a round of budget cuts.

    Bob Evans restaurant manager John Calhoun is participating in the book drive. He says instead of fighting the city, he’s trying to work with officials.

    Evans: This started for me about a month ago. I sat with my mother in the kitchen. She sat and called Mr. Nutter’s office to complain about shutting down the libraries. So instead of being one to complain, I decided to see what I could do to get involved.

    The head of Friends of the Free Library – a group that spoke out against closing library branches – started the book drive with a $25,000 donation for teen books.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.