PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) — Fewer than half of the branches of Philadelphia’s public libraries will be open on Saturdays this fall because of a lack of funding. The library system says only 23 of its 54 branches will be open on those days because the system can’t hire sufficient staff for the facilities.
The library system’s $48 million budget is supported each year by city and state funding, along with private donations. However, the system faced massive cuts in city funding about 10 years ago and has since struggled to open and staff libraries.
A grassroots effort called #FundOurLibraries is calling on city officials to provide more funding and is slowly gaining steam on social media as some city officials and many citizens support the push.
City Councilwoman Helen Gym has been a vocal proponent of funding public libraries. She advocates the importance of libraries within the community in a series of tweets, stating that “they matter immensely for all Philadelphians”.
Other supporters have been noting that some libraries in the Philadelphia area have been closing early due to the staffing shortages. An independent organization known as Friends of the Free Library has been documenting closures of branches due to their inability to support programs.
In South Philly, one branch posted signs to alert the community about the closing of the computer lab and the staff shortage.
In an effort to get the community involved, Friends of the Free Library is hosting several events to organize residents to rally for full funding.
Michael DiBerardinis, the city’s managing director, says officials expect the library system will make its case for more funding during budget hearings.
To find out which city-area libraries will be open on Saturdays, visit the Free Libraries website.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)