South Philadelphia’s Second Street has become legendary as the site for the Mummers, Philadelphia’s colorful New Years revelers. Second Street in South Philly houses the Mummers Museum honoring that annual celebration plus costume houses holding decorations for the event.
But several blocks away, Laura McColgan and the Friends of Whitman Library said they hope to keep another landmark alive on “Two Street,” the neighborhood term for Second Street. McColgan is president of the group, Friends of Whitman Library, that provides volunteer and civic assistance to the facility.
Friends of Whitman Library strongly support the Friends of the Free Library of Philadelphia proposal to keep several of the local branches, including the Whitman branch, open for six days a week, instead of planned a five-day schedule.
Friends of the Free Library of Philadelphia is an independent, nonprofit organization that supports the Free Library of Philadelphia system through work and communication with the neighborhood branches.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, in his proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2014, allocated $5 million over two years to update and improve the branches of the Free Library of Philadelphia, in addition to $1 million that should be used to extend library hours at only 12 out of the 54 local branches. However, this is only part of the money due to the Free Library system.
“About five years ago, 20 percent of our budget was cut, and now [Nutter] wants to restore some of it but on his own terms,” said Friends of Whitman president McColgan. “The additional money can only keep 12 libraries open six days a week and those are the big, regional branches. That’s unfair.”
The Whitman branch, located at 200 Snyder Ave., has become a staple to the community because of its weekly programs, McColgan, who lives about five blocks from the branch, said.
“Our programs are offered to all the residents of the community, five days a week. People come for the weekly yoga sessions, the computers to work on resumes and applications, the art group and the after school program,” McColgan said.
But life continues on past five days a week, McColgan said. She had wished to emphasize that before City Council President Darrell L. Clarke during the third round of neighborhood public forums concerning the mayor’s proposed budget. However, her name was not on the list of registered speakers despite her having registered weeks before.
Without the help from the city, local libraries could not grow and provide support to their communities, Amy Dougherty, executive director at the Friends for the Free Library Philadelphia, said during that public forum.
City Council sources had no comment as to why McColgan was not listed to speak.
McColgan, who has been president of the Whitman Friends group for four years, is the first president to also become a member on the board for the Friends of the Free Library group. Yet, her five year residency in the Whitman area, has made her more than committed to helping the community.
“If I can make my community a nice place to live, then I’m happy and I know I’ve done my part.”