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Legacy library faces shutdown

Jan. 23, 2009 at 12:27 AM
PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- A library believed to be the oldest continuously operating library in the United States is in danger of closing due to government spending cuts, officials said.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter's administration is planning to seek court approval for permission to close down 11 libraries, and the Darby Free Library in Delaware County, Pa., is in danger of shutting down, the Philadelphia Daily News reported Thursday.

Susan Borders, director of the library, told the newspaper the library -- founded in 1743 by Quaker townsmen -- is "on the chopping block."

"We thought we may have had four years left, but after going over our finances, we only have this year," she said.

Raymond Trent -- a bibliographic assistant at the University of Pennsylvania Law School who has donated books, DVDs and other reference materials to Darby Free Library -- noted that the library is "older than our country" and said the news that it faces a shutdown was "devastating."

"This comes as really bad news to my ears, because I have poured my heart and soul into trying to make Darby library one of the best libraries around," he told the newspaper.

The library's original books collection includes John Milton's "Paradise Lost" and "Paradise Regained" and Sir Walter Raleigh's "The History of the World"

Supporters of keeping the library open point out that it provides high-speed Internet access to about 10,000 residents -- including some who can't afford a computer -- and offers children a safe place to do homework and research for school projects.

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