Three popular Philadelphia libraries will receive much-needed repairs and improvements with the help of $1 million in Pennsylvania redevelopment funding secured by state Sen. Christine Tartaglione today.
The Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation was among dozens of Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grant awardees announced by Gov. Tom Wolf in Harrisburg. The foundation is a non-profit organization that raises outside funds for the city-supported Free Library system, which will invest the RACP grant at the Frankford and West Oak Lane branches, as well as the Parkway Central Library, as part of its 21st Century Libraries Initiative.
“I am gratified to deliver this state funding to Philadelphia because of the direct, positive impact it will have in each of these neighborhoods and for the city as a whole,” Senator Tartaglione said. “The Frankford Branch is in my Senate district and offers critical educational resources for thousands of families faced with unemployment, poverty and other socioeconomic challenges.”
The Frankford Branch serves a community where 31.8 percent of the population is under age 18, the unemployment rate exceeds 19 percent and 33.9 percent of households have poverty-level incomes. The facility is in dire need of repairs and upgrades, including new windows, a new roof, exterior façade repairs for water intrusion, a new entry door and a range of interior renovations.
“The good news is, neighborhood utilization of the Frankford Branch is at an all-time high,” Senator Tartaglione said. There were almost 53,000 visits to the branch in fiscal year 2017, a 28 percent increase over the previous year, including nearly 23,000 computer users. The branch’s wireless service saw a 181 percent increase in usage for the year.
The planned renovations in Frankford, West Oak Lane and Parkway Central will continue the successful 21st Century Initiative that began in 2014 with a historic $25 million contribution by the William Penn Foundation. The three objectives of the initiative are to renovate and expand Parkway Central, restore and modernize neighborhood branches throughout the city and strengthen community partnerships, particularly with Philadelphia’s schools.