Tuesday, December 1, 2009

America's Oldest Public Library (?) Falls on Hard Times

Link to November 30 philly.com post, "Despite hard times, Darby vows to save library".

Excerpt: In Darby Borough, where the number of families living below the poverty line is twice the national average, a few dollars mean a lot.

Yet Darby officials, facing the possible closing of the historic library founded in 1743, say they are committed to keeping it open, even if taxes go up.

"The residents said that if we had to raise taxes, they would appreciate that we do," Mayor Helen Thomas said. "Everybody wants to save the library."

Still, in a community where industry crumbled long ago, officials aren't sure how they'll find the money. Library director Susan Borders said she hoped the township would fund the library with $50,000, about $5 per person, almost double the $2.70 per person it receives now through a dedicated real estate tax.

Borough Council President Janice Davis isn't sure residents can afford that.

But wait a minute. The Peterborough (New Hampshire) Town Library calls itself "the oldest public library in the world". Who are we to believe?

Peterborough Town Library

Here's what Famous First Facts has to say on the subject.

The above slide is from Retiring Guy's PowerPoint presentation for LIS 712 (The Public Library) session 3, "History and Development of Public Library Service".

Do we have a controversy on our hands, a la Two Rivers Wisconsin and Ithaca New York?

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