PHILADELPHIA, June 15, 2007 - Today the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation announced a major contribution to the Campaign for a New Central Library in the form of a state grant secured by State Senator Vincent Fumo. With Foundation board members Ron Wilson and Jerry Clothier, Foundation board chair Bill Sasso, Foundation CEO Linda Johnson, and Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins looking on, Senator Fumo presented the Free Library with a check in the amount of $2 million.
“I have 13 libraries in my district and I am well aware of the many programs for preschool children, school-age children, small business owners, and new immigrants to our city, which the Library provides for free to everyone,” said Senator Fumo to the crowd gathered at Citizens Bank Park. “I was especially pleased to hear that the Central Library on the Parkway will have a new children’s library...and a first-time-ever space for teens. Keeping our children safe and off the streets is crucial, and libraries provide a safe haven in every community in our city.”
Philadelphia Phillies infielder and literacy advocate Jimmy Rollins was enthusiastic to lend his support to the project. As a spokesman for the Campaign for a New Central Library, he thanked Senator Fumo for his efforts, adding “Libraries play a most important role in our communities, now more than ever.”
Ron Wilson, former president of the Philadelphia Coca-Cola Bottling Company, accepted the $2 million check on behalf of the Foundation. “In Philadelphia we enjoy world-class museums and sports facilities, but to be truly great we must also offer everyone free access to knowledge and ideas; and with the support of committed stakeholders like Senator Fumo and the excitement generated by campaign spokesman Jimmy Rollins, I know that we’re going to hit this ball out of the park!”
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Designed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie, the 180,000 square foot addition to the historic Beaux Arts Central Library on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway will dramatically increase access to the Library’s extensive collections, while also providing a multitude of new services. A Teen Center, the Sunoco Internet Center, extensive public meeting spaces, a soaring atrium with retail establishments, a new auditorium, and 300 public access computers are all among the myriad of new and improved services to be offered.
Some changes are already underway--even before the new addition is built. The Central Library’s Main Lobby has been restored and currently features an exhibition highlighting the plans for the new Central Library Expansion Project. A new H.O.M.E. Page Café with wireless internet service--in partnership with Project H.O.M.E and Metropolitan Bakery--will be unveiled this summer; and plans for a Parkway Visitors Center just outside the Central Library are all in the works.
The Free Library of Philadelphia system consists of 49 branches, three regional libraries, the Central Library, and the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. With more than six million visits annually, the Free Library is one of the most widely-used educational and cultural institutions in Philadelphia.