Activists push for an additional $15 million budget for free libraries

The Philadelphia Free Library was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic: the branch was temporarily closed, children’s programs were cancelled, and the system budget was cut.

Mayor Jim Kenny Proposed budget In fiscal year 2022, US$42.6 million was allocated to the library system, which is roughly the same as New York City’s 2019 donation, but still below the 2020 budget of US$46 million.

This Friends of the Philadelphia Free Library Say it needs more. At a rally outside the branches of the Parkway Central Library earlier this week, members of the library advocacy organization stated that they hope the city will spend an additional $15 million, which will help the 54 branches of the library system from the pandemic. To recover.

“Today, we are working hard to recover our communities and our libraries from the pandemic to restore what our communities have lost, and we need more funds from the Kenny government and city council to do this,” Yi Whithill Robinson said, according to Philadelphia TribuneHill-Robinson is a member of the Friends Group of the Overbrook Park Library.

More photos from our #FundOurLibrariesPHL rally and press conference yesterday. Tell Mayor Kenny and the City Council that to recover from this epidemic, our community needs a well-funded library!

Publisher Friends of the Philadelphia Free Library on Thursday, June 3, 2021

According to the friends group, the investment will also help the library hire staff-approximately 200 temporary positions have been lost due to pandemic budget cuts. It will also help restore projects that were stopped due to funding issues during the pandemic and previous years, and work to rebuild the library as a safe place for youth activities where violence in the city is currently on the rise.

The city’s budget for the Philadelphia free library in 2021 is 39.3 million U.S. dollars. Kenny’s proposed budget for 2022 raises this level by more than $3 million, but it is still $3.4 million less than the fiscal year 2020 budget.

The group of friends hopes that the city will withdraw an additional $15 million from the $1.4 billion federal pandemic stimulus the city received.

Sarah Peterson, a spokesperson for the Kenny office, told the Tribune that the funds allocated to the library system in the proposed budget are sufficient to ensure that all branches are open five days a week and expand extracurricular activities. She also said that the $1.4 billion in federal stimulus funding is still $100 million less than Philadelphia’s expected revenue loss over the next five years.

The City Council must approve the 20220 budget by the end of this month.

Free library locations in Philadelphia reopened most locations January 2021.

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