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Councilman Pledges Money for Roxborough Library Update

Curtis Jones, Jr. is working to get Roxborough Library $30,000.

Fundraising efforts to improve the exterior of the may have received a boost from the local Philadelphia City Council member.

A staffer for (D-4) said the Democratic majority leader is working to pledge $30,000 to help fund renovations at the local branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia.

"The Councilman has allocated $30,000 from his capital budget to fund the library's renovation project," staff member Joshua Cohen said in an email to Patch. "I am working with the group on their plans and helping them navigate city bureaucracy to get the project done."

Earlier in May, Cohen shared with the Central Roxborough Civic Association the councilman's plans to aid in the library's exterior renovation. Generally, Cohen said that money often goes toward updates at older recreation centers, like the roofing and playground enhancements at the .

After he met with the Friends of the Roxborough Library, its members said Jones was committed to them.

"We showed the councilman how active the Roxborough Library is and, specifically, how active and interested young families are in the library," said José Casalina, vice president of the local Friends group.

last year from a leave of absence, the Friends of the Roxborough Library have worked on beautification, which include a new sign, better landscaping, and potentially utilizing the outside space for patrons. Casalina said new patio furniture and outdoor workspace are possible.

Fear of Budget Cuts

The Friends group's intent is to firmly establish this branch as a community hub, in the hopes of potentially avoiding the axe of budget cuts.

"We are trying to do everything we can to make sure the Roxborough Library stays safe, regarding the cuts. We don't know what's going on with the budget, but the outdoor improvements and are programs go a long way," Casalina said.

He credited the staff with creating a better buzz—especially Siebers and librarian Irene Klemas-Brady. Siebers boasted of the library's after-school homework help program, and Klemas-Brady recently organized children's.

Recently, Casalina said circulation increased 25 percent—and that's with the library opening late Monday and Wednesday.

The Friends didn't want to count on the finances until they come through. But if Jones delivers, the new sign should be good to go.

Casalina is an architectural designer with his own firm, CB Design Consultants. He drafted the renderings attached to the story. However, Siebers said there's no timetable for the updates yet, as the Free Library must make final decisions. 

Raising Money

Despite budget cuts, the Free Library of Philadelphia has helped the Roxborough branch, Casalina said. The main library recently paid for powerwashing, and two new trees will be planted.

The branch also received $5,000 donations in both 2011 and 2012 from .

Roxborough itself is working on keeping the library sustainable. Casalina said a winter fundraising event at in Manayunk helped a lot. Since then, they haven't found another local business as accommodating with finances, which he said is frustrating.

"We can't find someone willing to work with us. We're a nonprofit, so it doesn't really make sense to charge $35 a head for event. We need someone to do something because it's good for the community, not just for the profit," he said.

Despite some holdups, Cohen said Roxborough should get excited about its library.

"Within the next year, you'll see some major renovations at the library. We're here to help."

People interested in volunteering, donating or offering services to the library may email roxborougfriends@gmail.com or call the branch, 215-685-2550. Visit the Friends Facebook page here.

Debbie Thomas May 17, 2012 at 12:10 PM
This is the sort of thing our tax dollars SHOULD BE going towards. Instead the Roxborough library branch, along with other branches in the city, have to beg for money or have it donated. Meanwhile city council gets paid more money than they're worth and collect exhorbitant amounts with DROP. Libraries are vital parts of the communities they're in.
SPR May 24, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Beautiful plans but how is this entrance better for the handicapped, wheelchairs and parents with strollers?

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