East Falls: Local Library Serves as Community Center

Stephanie Rowe sat at her desk where she works at the Falls of Schuylkill Library.
Stephanie Rowe sat at her desk where she works at the Falls of Schuylkill Library.

While the walls of books are characteristic of a typical institution of learning, the Falls of Schuylkill Library is far from commonplace. Laughter and conversations frequently reverberate off the walls of the nearly 100-year-old building. The library is always full of people, as community members use it as a place to learn and to interact with other individuals who call East Falls their home.

Stephanie Rowe, the branch head and the librarian for adults and teens, said the library is so important to the community. She said that after Philadelphia cut the budget for public libraries a few years ago, things have been hard financially.

But it gets a lot of support from the Friends of the Falls of Schuylkill Library. The blanket organization has about 400 members who raise money throughout the year and then donate it all back to the library. “Community members consider this library their library. It’s their pride and joy. It’s their community center,” Rowe said.

The library is constantly reaching back out to the community with programs for all ages. While it’s sometimes difficult to get teens interested in reading, Rowe said, the library always try to come up with new and inventive ways of getting them through our doors. In the summer, the library hosts a reading program for students in the community that includes prizes and a party.

Ann Blasberg, the children’s librarian, said they are constantly working with local schools to get more kids involved in the community. One of the new programs called “Leap Into Science,” which is in partnership with the Franklin Institute, brings fun interactive science to local children. “We use hands-on activities to get kids excited and then pair them with books,” Blasberg said. The library doesn’t only offer programs for the young. At their “Thursday at the Theatre” program the library holds screenings of classic films that cater to older members of the community.

People are always coming in searching for books and information. Helping people to find what they’re looking for is the thing she likes most about her job, Rowe said. “I like answering people’s questions and I love research. I like the challenge of searching for something and when people are happy with what I’ve found for them,” she said.

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