Feb 28, 2023 - News

Free Library adds Saturday hours for some branches

The Free Library of Philadelphia branch in Andorra. Photo: Mike D'Onofrio/Axios

Ten Philadelphia Free Library branches will now be open on Saturdays.

Why it matters: These extended hours mark the Free Library’s first move back to six-days-a-week service since 2020, when COVID led to citywide budget cuts and layoffs.

What’s happening: The new Saturday service from 10am to 5pm at the 10 locations, which began this weekend, will run through June 10, library spokesperson Kaitlyn Foti tells Axios.

Zoom in: Library officials selected the branches for weekend service to ensure at least one branch was located in each of the city’s 10 City Council districts, Foti says.

Flashback: The Free Library has been struggling to increase funding and staffing, and to offer consistent hours since the Great Recession of 2008, when the library faced massive budget cuts.

  • Saturday hours throughout the library system were restarted last in 2019, which the arrival of the pandemic later halted.

Between the lines: Limited staffing continues to lead to reduced hours or unscheduled closings, which has been noted as a factor for the relatively low use of the city’s libraries by Philadelphians.

Linda Colwell-Smith, co-chair of the community group Friends of the Free Library, tells Axios the Saturday openings will help accommodate families with children, who have trouble accessing libraries and their programs during the workweek.

  • The library plans on adding additional weekend hours in the fall.

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