After three frustrating years, the West Philadelphia branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia reopened August 20. The 85-year-old branch was closed in September 1987 when workers discovered cancer-causing asbestos near basement pipes. Its reopening had been postponed several times. Only the main floor has been reopened the flooded basement, which contained an auditorium, was too costly to reopen. Head Librarian Sandra Viddy said that the library is designed to look like a bookstore books are displayed face-out to attract potential readers. Viddy said that she tries to help local high school students by offering books that they have been assigned in class. John Steinbeck and Charles Dickens novels are popular, and S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders is prominently displayed. University City High School junior Dennis Thompson said he is relieved that the library is open again, because it will be easy for him to come over after school. "I live around the corner, and the nearest was at 34th Street," he said. But the West Philadelphia branch's offerings are not limited to the printed word. The library offers video cassettes of public performances and classic films like Vertigo and Casablanca., and a compact disc section, which features classical, jazz and folk recordings. Both videos and compact discs are free. There is also a facsimile machine which is free for use in Philadelphia and a copy machine, which costs 15 cents per page. A children's section boasts board games, said Patti Mclaughlin, the children's section librarian. Children can't get enough of the Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree game, she said. University students can use the library for recreational purposes and for the graduate school and job reference books. Viddy said that the library will hold a registration drive on Locust Walk next week. Students can obtain a library card, good at all Free Library branches, by providing their name and address. Viddy also plans to visit International House to familiarize students there with the library. Seven people staff the library three head librarians, three assistant librarians and one security guard. By the time the library opened in August, all books and periodicals were listed on computer, and the old card catalog system had been abandoned. Mayor Wilson Goode is scheduled to highlight a list of dignitaries scheduled to attend a grand opening celebration to be held at the library September 17. Hours are Monday and Wednesday from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.Comments powered by Disqus
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