The Friends of the Chestnut Hill library is a neighborhood organization, but in addition to raising funds for repairs, improvements, and programs at our local branch, we advocate for full funding for all 54 branches of the Free Library of Philadelphia.
Because all library staff are City of Philadelphia employees serving a larger system, and because branch buildings are City-owned spaces, it is impossible and uplift one branch (eg. Chestnut Hill Library) without also uplifting the branch network. The health of the Chestnut Hill branch depends on the vitality of the larger system to which it belongs.
Unfortunately, the City of Philadelphia has limited its spending on our libraries, resulting in a library system that desperately needs investment.
In 2008, Philadelphia spent $68 million (number adjusted for inflation) on its library system. It has not matched that investment since. Even in 2008, the system was barely able to provide six day/week service during the school year. In 2022, branch libraries were open well below five days of service each week, with no weekend hours.
Alongside advocates across Philadelphia, notably The Citywide Friends of the Library, Chestnut Hill Library supporters have advocated for a restoration and expansion of the library budget.
Our advocacy is making a difference!
In April 2022, after years of frequent closures due to understaffing, the Chestnut Hill branch welcomed Claire Hand as the Adult/Teen Librarian, joining Children’s Librarian, Prather O’ Donnell.
And in late June 2022, the Free Library of Philadelphia won a $13 million funding increase over last fiscal year! This 29 percent increase is the biggest funding jump we've seen in years. Tracking back to 2006, the next largest annual increase we saw was approximately 10 percent.
Additionally, after years of programming budgets stagnated at just a few hundred dollars for the full year, in December 2022, each branch received $4,800 for programs.
We’re thrilled that funding for library programs, materials, and staffing is beginning to reverse course, and we know it didn’t happen by luck. Without our and your advocacy, we would not have won these gains – any budget increases would be directed to other City departments instead of investing in one of the City’s few remaining free and accessible institutions.
The Chestnut Hill Library Friends: committed to making our library, one of the best community libraries, even better.
The Friends of the Chestnut Hill Library is a voluntary, nonprofit organization.
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84 Bethlehem Pike, Philadelphia PA 19118
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