Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Free Libraries For All

100_5658 We recently spent two weeks roaming the U.S. - from Chicago to Philadelphia and all New England states, ending in Boston.  How I regret not photographing every library we encountered in our 2,600 mile, 13 state journey!  The range of library building styles was incredible as we traversed major cities and tiny towns.

By far one of the most impressive library structures we viewed was the Central Library in the Free Library of Philadelphia (FLP) system.  (Also, one of the few we saw that we did actually photograph.)


Situated along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the Library’s 7 million item collection now, amazingly, overcrowds the massive building. (In comparison, KCLS has approximately 4 million items in their collection.)

While planning began in the 1890s, construction did not begin until 1910. It took 17 years to complete. Finally opened in 1927, the Free Library was one of the most technologically advanced libraries in the world.  Pneumatic tubing and teletype systems helped librarians gain access to the 2 million volume collection that resided on more than 20 miles of shelves!

For more information about the Central Library, including photographs, original blueprints and plans, visit their 75th anniversary website.


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