Advocates want $15 million more from City Hall for Philadelphia libraries

Thursday, March 7, 2019

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Mayor Jim Kenney outlined to City Council his $5 billion dollar 2020 budget proposal and 5-year plan at Philadelphia City Hall on Thursday.

In the gallery were friends of the library and library staffers.

They arrived early to advocate.

They say the city system has been underfunded for years leaving some branches understaffed and in disrepair.

Their want a hike of more than $15 million to the library's budget this year. The current budget is about $49 million, about $40 million of it coming from the city.

The mayor says his budget proposal has more money for fixing streets, combating opioids, and $1.2 billion more for public schools in the coming years.

He says that education figure will "ensure the school district continues its positive momentum and never again is forced to make devastating cuts that put our children's futures in jeopardy."

The mayor is offering the libraries not $15 million but only $2.5 million. He said he hopes the amount will allow all libraries to return to six-day service.

Amelia Longo of Friends of the Library said while $2.5 million is helpful it is still not enough.

"We cant even maintain a five day a week schedule right now. We need much more funding, the $15 million, to get to that level of six days a week," said Longo.

Library advocates are hoping that during the upcoming budget hearing process allies on City Council will help the libraries obtain the $15 million dollars advocates want.