May 20, 2022

Philadelphia: “Free Library Borrowers Face Long Waits for Books, Materials — the Side-Effect of a Shrunken Materials Budget”

From The Inquirer:

2019-01-21_14-16-39A state mandate calls for the city’s library system to spend at least 12 percent of its annual operating budget, currently around $48 million, on collection expenditures – including books, materials, and special collections. But since 2010, the 54branch system has fallen below that threshold — sometimes by more than $1 million, according to a review of Free Library budgets — severely depleting its collections and creating long waits for books and materials for thousands of patrons.


When the materials budget dropped in 2010 from $8.5 million to $4.8 million, the downsizing of collections was “huge,” said Free Library president Siobhan Reardon.

“It was a 50 percent cut to the collections, absolutely,” said Reardon, who took over the system in 2008. “And that decision was to save jobs. … Unfortunately, it’s jobs or it’s collections.”

Read the Complete Article (approx. 1250 words)

On a Related Note…

Report:Ebooks Seem Like ‘Netflix for Libraries,’ But They’re a Drain on Budgets (Jan. 17, 2018)

Strategic Planning Prioritizes Community Connections (via Free Library of Philadelphia; Jan 14, 2018)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.