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A busy neighborhood library in North Philadelphia is getting a makeover through the city’s Rebuild program.
Work is expected to start this summer at the Cecil B. Moore Library, which serves Sharswood, Strawberry Mansion and Brewerytown. The improvements include new HV/AC and electrical systems. The project will also bring new windows, ADA-accessible bathrooms, as well as new paint and furnishings.
An elevator will also be installed so the library’s basement, which includes a community room, is more accessible. And the grates on the outside of the building will be removed as part of an effort to make the branch near 23rd Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue more visible and welcoming.
“It’s huge,” said library supervisor Arrick Underhill. “We’re a third space where people can come and hang out for free all day if they want to, but it needs to be attractive to come in here and do that.”
The scope of the work was initially more limited in nature. It expanded after community groups pushed for more. A Rebuild spokesperson said the cost for the project is now expected to be approximately $2.6 million, roughly a million more than the original price tag.
Karen Jordan, president of the Cecil B. Moore Freedom Fighters, grew up within walking distance of the library, which opened in April 1962. She hopes the renovations will help honor the branch’s namesake, who she called a “big force for education.”
“He was a marine, he was a civil rights activist, he was a defense attorney, he was a councilman. And that library needed to represent what he represented,” said Jordan.
“Education should never be neglected,” she added.
Jordan’s group advocated for more money along with the Friends of the Cecil B. Moore Library and the Brewerytown Sharswood Community Coalition.
The work is expected to take nine to 12 months to complete. The library will be closed during that time.
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