North Philadelphia: Library Computers Back Online After Theft]

The thieves broke through an abandoned building and the library wall that has since been patched up to gain access to the library.

The Cecil B. Moore Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia’s recently stolen computers were replaced quickly due in large part to public outcry.  The library’s information technology department provided older, unused monitors and computers so that the community’s resource could be restored as soon as possible.

“The computers actually still have floppy drives on them,” said Aurora Deshauteurs, branch manager of the library, located at Cecil B. Moore Avenue and 23rd Street. “At least they still work.”

Due to the age of the computers, the library is still looking for replacements if these computers should fail.

Many local residents stepped up when they heard the news and offered their own recently replaced personal computers to the library.  However, the library was unable to accept the donations because the donated computers would not have been covered under the current  service contract.  Therefore, if one broke down, the library would have been unable to repair it.

The library has added new security measures including cameras and motion detectors since the break-in.

The computers were stolen when a group of thieves broke into the library on Jan. 26.  They used heavy construction equipment to break through the brick wall of an adjacent abandoned community center building and then the library’s wall and wooden shelf holding books.  It is estimated that the thieves got away with about $12,000 worth of computer equipment.  Police are still without any leads as to the identity of the thieves due to the lack of any cameras in the area of the computers.  The library has installed new security measures since the break-in, including new cameras and motion detectors.

Now that the computers have been replaced, local residents are once again able to use the computers to perform the every day tasks people rely on computers for.
“I use them to put in job applications, check e-mails online, and now I’m doing my income tax,” said North Philadelphia resident Mary A. Weal. “Just general communication, I have family that’s in South Carolina and California, so I use it to link up with them.”

Younger residents relied on the computers for other reasons. “I use the computers for research but mostly probably for entertainment,” North Philadelphia resident and student Daniel Scretching said. “I read books mostly for education.”

North Philadelphia resident Mary A. Weal is glad the computers at the library were replaced quickly.

Local residents were stunned to hear the news of the computers being stolen.  “I wanted to cry. I mean, I couldn’t believe that somebody would do that because it’s so helpful to the community,” said Weal. “It’s like stealing from yourself, it was hard on the whole area.”


  1. Hello–

    I read your article and I decided to follow it up and offer my computer to the library. To my big surprise, they told me “no” (see below). Now I do not know how true all these calls for help are. They did not even check how good my computer is.

    The central library reply made me very cynical. I have got a message from them that they only want money from people and not something that make the life of their patrons easier in the budget-cut times. Please see it yourself below….

    What do you think?


    Patron supplied information:
    Web Page: Computer donation
    IP Address:

    Librarian 1: Dear Mr. Matusov,

    Thank you so much for reaching out to us. We have temporary computers in the Cecil B. Moore branch now, but are moving towards acquiring new computers. Because the computers that were stolen were part of a lease, we must replace them with identical machines and software. Should you be interested in contributing funds to this project, please contact Alix Gerz of the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation at 215-814-3509.
    Sandy Horrocks

    Question History:

    Patron: Hello–

    I have read about computers being stolen from The Cecil B. Moore Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia .

    How can I donate a computer, scanner, printer to this library?


    Eugene Matusov

  2. Not only the local residents were stunned to hear the news of the computers being stolen, but also i was’ hard for me to believe the true.i am sad!

  3. You did a great job, Gentlemen!

    Thanks for doing the article and interviews.

    Much success to you in your future endeavors.

    Aurora Deshauteurs, Former Branch Manager of the Cecil B. Moore Branch

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