Darby Library, oldest in nation, on verge of closure

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The oldest library in the nation looks to be closing.

Money woes may soon force the nation's oldest library to close - the Darby Free Library in Delaware County.

The library was founded in 1743, eight years before the Liberty Bell was commissioned and the same year Thomas Jefferson was born.

It opened with a collection of books from England, which are still displayed and preserved at the library today.

On average, 1,500 people visit the library every month for books, research, or to prepare resumes.

Board of Directors President Jay McCalla says the building has been operating on a bare necessities basis.

Over the past 5 years, the library's total income has decreased by $49,000 because of a significant decline in state funding.

The only way the library has been able to stay open till now has been to make cuts, all of its librarians are now part-time, but still all love their work.

"They didn't leave, they didn't leave when we cut their benefits," McCalla said.

The building has only five computers, operating on ten-year-old software.

"We want to be able to offer the best because this is a national institution," McCalla said.

It needs $7,000 in electrical work.

"We can't operate our air conditioner, our printer, and certain computers at the same time," McCalla said.

McCalla has personal reasons for wanting to see this place thrive.

"I'm born in Darby and I've known and loved the legend of this library all my life," McCalla said. "My mother would bring me here when I was child to take out Andrew Lang books."

With overall debt likely to increase next year, the closing of this library appears to be inevitable, but Jay McCalla remains hopeful.

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educationlibrariespa. newsmoneyDarby Borough
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