Press Release - March 25, 2009
EASTWICK LIBRARY REMAINS CLOSED, CITYWIDE SYSTEM WEAKENED BY PREVIOUS CUTS
When Mayor Nutter announced last week that all library branches would remain open, Philadelphia’s now nationally-recognized Coalition to Save the Libraries had reason to celebrate. Certainly not in recent history has such a diverse group been so successful in overturning the agenda of a Philadelphia Mayor and the strong Mayor system.
Instead, they’ll be lobbying and demonstrating on March 26th at City Hall.
Rather than just celebrating, library advocates are quick to point out that Mayor Nutter’s sunny budget forecast hides a weakened library system still reeling from a 20% cut in December.
“We are lobbying City Council to restore our library system and to protect our other essential Services from other sneaky cuts, “ said Sherrie Cohen, one of the attorneys who successfully argued the case that stopped Mayor Nutter from closing 11 of the 54 branches on December 31 of last year.
Because of staffing shortages caused by cuts, libraries continue to close without warning across the City, collections are incomplete in many neighborhoods and the Eastwick branch has been closed since February because the City refuses to maintain the building.
Sasa Ynoa is an Eastwick library patron and mother of two sons: Judah who is 9, and Hatuey who will be 2 in May. Judah goes to Penrose School, a public school in the area. She used to take him to the Eastwick library frequently to check out books, and also for the summer reading program and the science for kids program.
"It makes me really sad,“ said Sasa. “There are so few services in the area already, and that's like our only resource for books. There's not even a bookstore that's closer than 20 minutes by car. At the Eastwick library, they have a reading section for kids. A lot of kids use the computer there. You see teens going in there to check out books."
"Closing that library sends the message that we are forgotten and don't matter."
That’s why the Coalition to Save the Libraries is calling on Mayor Nutter to fully restore the funding and staffing levels that were cut in December, to reopen the closed Eastwick branch, and to fund libraries by having wealthy corporations, who avoid paying their fair share through tax loopholes, participate more fully in City funding.
Library patrons will be joining the Coalition for Essential Services on Thursday March 26 at City Hall for meetings with City Council representatives.
“Targeting Union workers, imposing regressive taxes, and applying fees to once-free services does not protect the City’s most vulnerable in these difficult economic times,” says Greg Benjamin, a Committeeperson in the 51st Ward and member of the Coalition to save the Libraries. “And we’re not going to stand for it.”