Nov 16, 2023 - News

Philadelphia Free Library resumes Saturday hours at some branches

The Free Library of Philadelphia Andorra branch

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

Nine Free Library of Philadelphia branches resume consistent Saturday hours starting this weekend.

Why it matters: The move is part of the Free Library's effort to restore six-days-a-week service citywide after the pandemic forced budget cuts and layoffs three years ago.

Driving the news: The new Saturday service from 10am-5pm will be a regular part of the nine neighborhood branches' schedules.

  • The library has hired around 300 staff members this year, which has stabilized service and allowed for the extended hours, deputy director of operations Darren Cottman, tells Axios.

Zoom in: The libraries offering weekend service were selected based on their staffing levels and are located throughout the city, per the library's website.

Of note: A 10th location, Wyoming Library in North Philly, resumes Saturday hours starting Dec. 2.

Flashback: The Free Library began offering Saturday service at some branches earlier this year through August.

Between the lines: The Free Library has struggled with limited staffing for more than a decade, which has led to reduced hours or unscheduled closings.

What they're saying: The extended hours are a "game changer in allowing for us to really provide the community what they're asking for," library spokesperson Trenton Smiley tells Axios.

  • Cottman added that the new hours can offer safe havens for residents amid the city's gun violence epidemic.

What to watch: Depending on staffing levels, the Free Library is expected to offer Saturday hours at more branches starting in January.


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