Man Sheds Tears, Residents Protest Over Library Closures

City closing 11 libraries to help save money

By Mike Strug and Vince Lattanzio
|  Tuesday, Nov 18, 2008  |  Updated 3:12 AM EDT
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Residents Fight to Keep Their Libraries Open

Residents of the Holmesberg neighborhood said their library is integral to the neighborhood.

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Local Man in Tears Over Library Closure

One local man was brought to tears over the City of Philadelphia's plan to close his neighborhood library to help fend off the city budget crisis. WARNING: This video contains explicit language.

Residents Fight to Keep Their Libraries Open

Neighborhood residents protest the city's plan to close libraries in their neighborhood.
More Photos and Videos

Some people love sports. Others love cooking. And yet others love their neighborhood libraries.

Two emotional protests were held Monday night as residents of the Holmesberg and West Oak Lane neighborhoods fight to keep their libraries open.

City officials are planning to close 11 libraries across the city as a means to save money in the current economic crisis. The city is facing a budget gap of almost $1 billion over the next five years.

One protester at the Holmesberg Library was driven to tears by the idea that his neighborhood library would be closed.

“I grew up here,” said Tom Brown as tears streamed down his face, “I just can’t believe anybody is gonna close this damn thing down.” You can hear everything Tom had to say in the video on the left. (NOTE: The video contains harsh language. Viewer discretion is advised.)

Clearly the sentiment is libraries are the wrong place to try to save money.

"I as a teacher do everything I possibly can in the classroom, but I need to inspire my kids. The only way to inspire them is to send them to the library," said teacher Cindy O’Donnell.

At the Wadsworth Avenue branch in West Oak Lane --only a few miles away, the crowd somewhat smaller, but the emotions just as intense.

"Senior citizens use this location, kids are here everyday for after-school programs. This library is used on a daily basis every single day and you just don’t take libraries out of a community,” said Ouida Davis.

Beyond the demonstrations and the petitions, the Friends of the Free Library are planning more action.

They're appealing for Philadelphians to contribute $10 each as seed money in their campaign. Then they'll be asking corporations, foundations and universities to provide matching funds.

Next month the group is hoping to meet with Mayor Michael Nutter to create a five-year plan for the city's libraries, but that may be too late. The city has already begun to re-assign librarians and set the wheels in motion to sell the properties, according to the local blog Philebrity.

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