Philly Mayor to Lease Closing Libraries

11 buildings would be run by private or foundation centers

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 29, 2008 5:11 PM CST

(Newser) – The mayor of Philadelphia has preliminary agreements with private foundations and nonprofits to manage at least five of the 11 libraries the city is closing out of budget concerns, the Inquirer reports. The new institutions, which Michael Nutter said he hopes will become “knowledge centers,” will retain collections and equipment, but no city employees. The plan is part of a broad initiative to close a $1 billion gap.

The services offered at the former libraries will depend on who steps up to run them. But Nutter contends that a trained staff is not the only merit of the institution. “Libraries are much more than repositories for books,” he said. “They are the absolute complete nexus of community life.” Nutter expressed hope all 11 of the libraries will one day be transformed in this way. The City Council and other opponents have challenged the closures.

Mayor Michael Nutter places a plant on the roof of the Free Library of Philadelphia.   (AP Photo)
Michael Nutter.   (AP Photo)
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.   (AP Photo)
Garry Kasparov at the Free Library of Philadelphia.   (AP Photo)
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