January 15, 2009


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Has to be better way for libraries

Like Brian Rudnick, who wrote to the Forum last week about Mayor Nutter’s decision to close 11 of the city’s libraries [“Why did Hill library not get the ax?”], I am concerned about the rationale behind the decision. 

But I do not advocate, as Mr. Rudnick seems to, that the Chestnut Hill branch be closed.  It serves way too many people for that, from the many students who participate in after-school programs there, to job-seekers and others who use its computers, to senior citizens, parents, children, and others for whom the Chestnut Hill branch is vitally important.  They would all be severely impacted by closing the branch — just as the patrons of the 11 libraries scheduled to be closed would be hurt.

There has to be a better way, and that is why I fault Mayor Nutter for refusing to even consider alternative means for cutting the overall budget for the library system.  Yes, the city is facing a huge deficit.  Funds have to be cut.  But alternative solutions, such as eliminating Sunday hours at the central and regional branches, which would save double overtime labor costs, closing all libraries one day a week, or cutting out deadwood in management, have not been discussed.  The only alternative that has been mentioned is restricting all libraries to three-day weeks.

That seems more draconian than is necessary, almost as if the administration wants to intimidate the libraries that are not scheduled to be closed and keep them from supporting their fellow Philadelphians who are losing their beloved libraries.

We all know that we face perilous times and must make sacrifices to accommodate severe budget dislocations, but those sacrifices should be as fair as possible.  Instead of arguing in community meeting after community meeting that there is only one solution — the closing of the 11 libraries — the mayor and the library administration would better serve us all by opening themselves to other alternatives that might achieve a similar savings.

Mary Sue Welsh
Friends of the Chestnut Hill Library


Kudos on Gaza piece

Thank you for running the wonderful piece by Jen Marlowe about her friends in Gaza.  At a time when the media is showing Gaza as residents only as violent “terrorists” or as wailing victims, so utterly different from how we see ourselves, Jen’s gives us a real story — parents, under occupation and attack, trying to protect their children. While the politics of Israel’s Occupation of Gaza are complicated, the human cost is easy to understand, and desperate, and tragic.

Elliott bat Tzedek
Philadelphia Jews for
a Just Peace


I commend the Chestnut Hill Local for printing Jen Marlow’s article on Childbirth in Gaza.  It was brilliant, life affirming and speaks metaphorically to the humanity and realities for the people in Gaza. 

Susan Landau
East Falls