Wednesday, April 16, 2014
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Library victory: Score one for Mom

Over two days of sometimes droning testimony in a City Hall courtroom about Mayor Nutter's legal right to unilaterally close 11 city libraries, Sophie Bryan, a staff attorney for Councilman Bill Green, said nary a word. But when she finally got around Tuesday afternoon to arguing that Nutter was in violation of a rarely-cited law requiring Council's approval for facility closures, she left library advocates whispering in admiration at the clarity of her argument.

Library victory: Score one for Mom

Jane Bryan
Jane Bryan Drexel University

Over two days of sometimes droning testimony in a City Hall courtroom about Mayor Nutter's legal right to unilaterally close 11 city libraries, Sophie Bryan, a staff attorney for Councilman Bill Green, said nary a word. But when she finally got around Tuesday afternoon to arguing that Nutter was in violation of a rarely-cited law requiring Council's approval for facility closures, she left library advocates whispering in admiration at the clarity of her argument.

"The mayor is treading not only on the legislative branch, but on the judicial branch," said Bryan, who said the Mayor couldn't refuse to follow a 1988 City Council ordinance just because his solicitor told him it was invalid.

But then, Sophie Bryan was inspired. Her mother, Jane Bryan, was a career librarian, who started at with the Free Library of Philadelphia and worked at Penn and Princeton before her appointment as director of libraries at Drexel University in 2005. Jane Bryan died on Dec. 15 after a breif illness.

"It's a happy day," said Sophie Bryan, 34, whose father was in court to watch her yesterday. "She was very happy that Bill [Green] was fighting this fight."

Jane Bryan was heartened by the way Philadelphians came out in support of the libraries, her daughter said: "It just reinforced what she had spent her life trying to do."

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The Philadelphia Inquirer's Troy Graham and Bob Warner and Claudia Vargas take you inside Philadelphia's City Hall.

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