December 29, Philadelphia PA – Mayor John F. Street today officially signed Bill Number 041041, which approves a $30 million bond issue to support the renovation and expansion of the Central Library at 1901 Vine Street. The Mayor was joined by city officials and Free Library of Philadelphia board members at the bill signing in the lobby of the Central Library.
The City funds give a major impetus to the Library’s efforts to raise $130 million for this project which will give Philadelphia a state-of-the-art library facility to properly house its unique, research-quality collections and offer up-to-date library technologies to Philadelphians in an inviting environment all for FREE. The region’s largest library will be immeasurably improved by the 160,000 square foot addition and renovations.
Comparable projects in major Cities have demonstrated dramatic increase in visits and
card holders. Current Library cardholders number approximately 500,000 and vistorship
to the Central Library is over 800,000. Circulation is expected to double and visitorship may triple (as it has in Seattle and Salt Lake City).
This $130 million development project will employ over 1,000 construction workers and
generate $1.9 million in construction wage tax revenues for the City and along with the
Barnes Foundation which will be the library’s neighbor, spur new development in the area.
Some specifics of the renovated and expanded Central Library include a new, enlarged children’s department, a new teen center, 300 new computers including 2 internet browsing centers, a new auditorium, and increased access to materials such as the Automobile Reference Collection and Theater Collection which will make the new Central Library the center for information and knowledge in Philadelphia – all for FREE.
Improving the Central Library—the heart of a 55 branch system—will also provide efficiencies and improved service for the system such as faster book ordering and delivery as well as technology improvements.
According to Elliot Shelkrot, President and Director of the Free Library, "The Central Library is a resource for all Philadelphians in addition to serving as a neighborhood library for the Spring Garden, Fairmount and Logan Square areas. Over the years as we've grown from 1 million items to 7 million items including formats such as books on tape, DVDs, CDs and computer databases never thought of when we opened in 1927, we have lost space for people. The new Central Library will be a welcoming and light filled environment for people to come and enjoy our books and other materials as well as to meet and discuss important issues. We'll even have a place to eat and relax in the new Urban Room!"
The groundbreaking for the renovation and expansion is planned for the spring of 2006.