Library expansion reportedly back on track

    Over a year ago, plans to build a glass atrium behind the historic library building was put on hold because the city threatened to close neighborhood libraries.

    A 175 million dollar expansion of the Free Library’s central branch is back on. Over a year ago, plans to build a glass atrium behind the historic library building were put on hold because the city threatened to close neighborhood libraries.

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    By late 2008 the Free Library had raised 105 million dollars for the expansion of the building on Race street.  But the firestorm whipped up by Mayor Michael Nutter’s plan to shutter libraries to close the city’s budget gap pushed the capital campaign to the back burner.

    Governor Ed Rendell pledged four million dollars toward the expansion, and once again the fundraising game is afoot.

    Free Library Director Siobhan Reardon says the groundbreaking of the Barnes museum across the street has helped bring the campaign back to life.

    Reardon:
    This is our time to get this project going. This end of the Parkway is going to be a real entry point. We kicked it back up – we have reinvgorated the campaign cabinet, we have three vice chairs, the Mayor has been inordinately supportive. We are having very active conversations with donors.

    Reardon says she is confident the library will break ground later this year. The chair of the Free Library Foundation shares her enthusiasm.

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