Phla. Free Library opens upgraded hall
CENTER CITY - March 1, 2012 (WPVI) -- With the snip of a ribbon, Philbrick Hall was officially re-opened at the Parkway Central branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia.
Folks flooded in to see what $3 million and 9 months of extensive renovations would look like.
"Well when I first came in, I saw the lights," Audrey Jordan of East Germantown told Action News. "I saw how it changed because I used to come before. There's more space, there's more things out. It's just inviting."
Light now floods through the windows, which for years had been blocked. The old carpet was pulled up to reveal the original terrazzo floor. The intricate plaster ceiling has been restored, and there's now new energy efficient lighting.
The idea was to honor the original design, but with all the latest resources and technology. The library wants to not just get more people to walk through the doors, but to sit down and stay awhile.
"That's the ultimate goal," said the library's president and director Siobhan Reardon. "We want to drive up our usership. We don't just want to see 6 million visits, we want to see 12 million visits to a place like this."
4400 new items, from books to DVDs, have been added. And it's all newly organized with the intention of being more user-friendly.
"Instead of a straight run from A-Z, we've separated them into genres, more like a bookstore," said Dena Heilik, the department head of Philbrick Hall. "So if you're looking for mysteries, we have a mystery section. All of our mysteries are together."
One of the new features is the library's first-ever Teen Center. The hope is that it will attract more young adults, now that they have a space to call their own.
"We're kind of going on the Field of Dreams theory." said Reardon. "If you build it, will they come? And we really hope they do. There are chairs we can move around, we've got Macs they can work on."
This Philbrick Hall renovation completes phase one of the library's project. The next phase begins in June. The focus will be on creating more public space and improving the storage systems.
philadelphia, pennsylvania, local/state, katherine scott
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