Hope for Public Libraries in Camden, NJ

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Showing Court House and Stanley Theatre, as well as S. S. Kresge Co and the Broadway Building. Photo from an early 1900s postcard.

Only last week, plans were in the works to shut down the three branches of Camden’s library system due to a $28-million budget gap. Now, officials in New Jersey claim to have found a way to save the city of Camden’s public library system. Other New Jersey libraries are also facing severe cutbacks. In Newark, the state’s largest city, the public library is eliminating Saturday hours at all branches and plans to permanently close two locations at the end of the month. Eight branches in Newark will only be open three days per week, Wednesday through Friday.

From NPR’s two-way blog:

On Monday, (Camden Mayor) Redd said a new plan called for the city’s library system would join the county’s, thereby maintaining library service in the hard-scrabble city across the Delaware River from Philadelphia. (The City Council must approve joining the county system.)

So it seemed a lot more likely Monday than Friday that Camden’s residents, many of whom fall below the federal poverty line, will still be able to get access to a library’s computers and books.

Somewhere poet Walt Whitman, Camden’s most famous man of letters, must be smiling. Ditto for Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin, the creator of one of the nation’s earliest lending libraries.

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