PHILADELPHIA, June 13, 2016—The Free Library of Philadelphia is excited to announce opening of the brand new South Philadelphia Library, located in the recently opened South Philadelphia Community Health and Literacy Center. The Library shares this innovative community hub with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the City of Philadelphia’s Health Center 2, and the DiSilvestro Recreation Center. This incredible partnership will provide healthcare, literacy, and recreational services in a single location for children and families in South Philadelphia. The library is the first new library in the city in more than 10 years.
The new South Philadelphia Library, consisting of 12,000 square feet of state-of-the-art space and located on the first floor of the Health and Literacy Center, includes a Community Health Resource Center with staff trained by the University of Pennsylvania Center for Public Health Initiatives. This targeted training is made possible by the Cannuscio Rader Family Foundation, which has established a Community Health Innovation Fund for the Free Library.
The new space also houses a “living room” area where customers can gather with friends, engage in library programs, and interact in a warm environment. This space, known as the Stephen and Sandra Sheller Common, was funded by the Sheller Family Foundation. The Frances and Stewart Rauch Children’s Library, funded by the Patchwork Foundation, displays a mural by renowned late author and illustrator Maurice Sendak. The only surviving Sendak mural, given by Nina and Larry Chertoff in loving memory of Roslyn and Lionel Chertoff and Eugene Glynn, it was previously on display at the Rosenbach, a Free Library affiliate, for nearly five years. The new library also includes a teen space, a Pre-K Zone, a computer lab, and updated study rooms.
“This remarkable new space will provide critical services for this community and re-establish the Free Library as a true civic center in South Philadelphia,” says Siobhan A. Reardon, president and director of the Free Library. “It also serves as a model of what 21st-century library spaces and programming can and should be.”
As part of the Building Inspiration: 21st Century Libraries Initiative, the South Philadelphia Library is the first of five pilot neighborhood libraries to be reimagined and reshaped to meet the changing needs of today’s library customers. The other four libraries—Lillian Marrero, Logan, Lovett Memorial, and Tacony—closed in April and are now preparing to undergo extensive modernization and expansion. Each will receive physical upgrades, ensuring full ADA accessibility, and have a unique programmatic focus, chosen in response to identified community needs. These critical updates are made possible in large part by the William Penn Foundation’s historic $25 million grant to the Building Inspiration initiative, as well as a number of private individuals and the City of Philadelphia, for which we continue to be so grateful.
To learn more about the Building Inspiration initiative, visit 21stcenturylibraries.org.
The Free Library of Philadelphia system, with 54 locations and the Rosenbach, advances literacy, guides learning, and inspires curiosity with millions of digital and physical materials; 25,000 yearly programs and workshops; free public computers and extensive Wi-Fi, including neighborhood Hotspots; and rich special collections, including those at Parkway Central Library and at the Rosenbach. With more than 6 million in-person visits and millions more online annually, the Free Library and the Rosenbach are among the most widely used educational and cultural institutions in Philadelphia and boast a worldwide impact.