By Chandler Lutz

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It was recently opening day for the new library at Avery D. Harrington Elementary School in West Philadelphia, the first time children were exploring the shelves and sitting for a story in their library.

Most of the 220 public school libraries in Philadelphia closed years ago, because they can’t afford enough certified librarians.

Principal Joe Dixon said, “This library was dormant for eight years. These kids did not have an opportunity to enter the library or even know what a library was.” Instead, it was a storage space.

The nonprofit West Philadelphia Alliance for Children, or WePAC, and executive director Anisha Sinha stepped in.

“Books have always been a part of my life, and I think I sort of took that for granted,” Anisha said.

WePAC organizes volunteers to reopen and staff libraries in Philadelphia public elementary schools. This summer at Harrington, they cleared the clutter, filled shelves with donated books, and scheduled volunteers to keep it open.

“Students can actually check out books. They can really touch the book, not like an iPad or a tablet,” Principal Dixon said.

“Something different to actually have it!” said CBS3’s Chandler Lutz.

“Yes!” Dixon said.

One girl jumped up and down with a book: “I love this book, and I love the library!”

The kids got two books each for their very own.

“So tell me what it feels like to finally see this as a finished product?” asked Chandler.

“I’m sort of in awe that it actually happened!” Anisha said.

Since 2009, WePAC has re-opened 14 school libraries. They want to open 20 by 2020. For that we give Anisha and WePAC 3 cheers as they grow toward their goal.

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