The Chestnut Hill Library Friends has grown into an organization of hundreds of households. Members contribute thousands of hours to support the Library through fundraising events, garden maintenance, shelving books, assisting librarians, and planning events to build Library use and awareness.
Money raised by the Friends has enabled the Friends to:
The Friends of the Chestnut Hill Library is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity – your donation is tax deductible.
For decades, we (the Friends) have been known for supporting our local library branch with weekly book sales in the Community Room.
Every Monday at noon, a stalwart group of volunteers removed tables from storage closets, set them up along the perimeter of the library’s Community Room, and then began the assembly line process of passing columns of boxed books from the storage closet to the tables. At five o’clock, the end of their day, the volunteers reversed the process.
What happened in the room did not look like fundraising, but it was. All of the books sold were donated and all of the sales supported the library and its diverse array of programs. The Friends sold hardbacks for one dollar, trade paperbacks for fifty cents, and small paperbacks and children’s books for twenty-cents.
Discussions of raising prices to increase revenue for the library were fruitless. Reneé Polsky and the volunteer organizers insisted our prices stay affordable for all.
Along with membership donations, the book sale donations supplemented the $400 annual program and activity allotment given to the branch librarian. The weekly ritual, while joyous in the community camaraderie it engendered and the bargains it offered, was physically burdensome. Eventually the sales became too onerous.
We thank the patrons who donated books, the book buyers, the library staff who helped with the weekly set up, and the volunteers who faithfully showed up on book sale Mondays and special book sale events.
In 2020, amidst the covid pandemic, the Friends stayed active and began moving forward with plans to open a used bookstore in Chestnut Hill. The store, located at 84 Bethlehem Pike and known as Hilltop Books, opened in early 2021 and has been embraced by the community. In keeping with our mission, sales at Hilltop Books benefit the Chestnut Hill Library branch. We have ambitious plans for Hilltop and are excited to grow our program offerings with our new space.
As many of you know, Reneé Polsky died in September of 2019. Over the years, Renee served the Friends in many capacities – as President, Vice President, and the Book Sale Committee Chairperson. For many neighbors and library patrons, Renee was the face of the Friends. At the weekly sale, she made book recommendations, schmoozed with the regulars, and always, always had a joke to tell. Her commitment to the sale was rooted in her belief in the importance of a free library system. A former teacher, Renee believed entrance to the library was an entrance to understanding the world.
In 1991 the Friends contributed to a modern brick addition, designed by Cecil Baker and Associates. It was attached to the back of the library by a glassed in passageway. The addition received the Pennsylvania Society of Architects Design Award in 1997.
The library was renovated in 1999 as part of the "Changing Lives" campaign, which brought Internet service to every branch. Active support is provided by the Friends of the Chestnut Hill Library, founded in the 1970s.
The Chestnut Hill Library Friends sponsored improvements to the building including a completely new roof and new freestanding wooden shelves as well as carpeting, furnishings and computers. Friends' book sales have enabled the library to add books and other educational material to its collection.
In 2001, the Friends of the Chestnut Hill Library decided to spend some of the monies donated by members of the Friends to improve the plantings around the Library building. A committee was formed, and the planning began.
The decision was made to begin at the front of the building, and then tackle the left side, where a path led to the new side entrance, a handicapped entrance to the building, as well as to the CHCA Parking Foundation parking lot at the back.
A few years later, in 2006, we tackled the back and right side of the Library property.
In 2013 the Free Library utilities department removed the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) equipment visible from the Library lobby, which allowed the planting of a viewing garden. Denis Lucey, garden designer, helped plan and plant that garden, which was completed during the summer months.
Most recently, the Friends have purchased high-demand library materials, a bike rack, the big colorful plant vases out front and in the pergola, a little library with the message “Leave a book, take a book”, renovation of the storage closet including two shelving unit
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84 Bethlehem Pike, Philadelphia PA 19118
Store Phone: 215-315-8588