Saturday, September 20, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Fight to save Free Library goes viral

A grassroots campaign is under way to save the Free Library of Philadelphia system, prompted in part by a large banner across the library's website announcing the closure of all libraries on October 2 if the city doesn't get help from the state. Since the banner appeared, the plight of the library system has attracted widespread internet attention on Facebook and Twitter.

Fight to save Free Library goes viral

Author Cory Doctorow.
Author Cory Doctorow.

A grassroots campaign is under way to save the Free Library of Philadelphia system, prompted in part by a large banner across the library's website announcing the closure of all libraries on October 2 if the city doesn't get help from the state. Since the banner appeared, the plight of the library system has attracted widespread internet attention on Facebook and Twitter.

The man most responsible for getting the word out is author Cory Doctorow, whose blog post on the Free Library is cited repeatedly on Twitter, where he has approximately 28,000 followers:

Picture an entire city, a modern, wealthy place, in the richest country in the world, in which the vital services provided by libraries are withdrawn due to political brinksmanship and an unwillingness to spare one banker's bonus worth of tax-dollars to sustain an entire region's connection with human culture and knowledge and community.

People have been re-tweeting Doctorow's post all morning, hundreds of times an hour.

Doctorow isn't the only one who is decrying the potential demise of the Free Library. After the library placed the banner across its homepage, its Facebook page has received posts of support from as far away as Bournemouth, England (although it's not nearly as much attention, so far, as the Doctorow post has attracted on Twitter).

The banner, and its physical counterparts on each library in the city, went up last week, according to Sandra Horrocks, the Free Library's Vice President for Communications and Development. Horrocks says the goal of the campaign is to get concerned citizens to contact their representatives in Harrisburg. "We can't pass the budget, but they can," she says "We need this legislation… we need a budget."

The libraries have been close to dead before. Do they have another comeback in them?

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Every year, city government spends slightly more than $4 billion. Where does all that money come from? More importantly, where does it go? Are we getting the most bang for our tax buck? “It's Our Money” is a joint project between Philadelphia Daily News and WHYY, funded by the William Penn Foundation, designed to answer these questions.

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