In the midst of the city-wide closing of schools, one place has been a much needed and stable support system for the children in Philadelphia especially during the school year: The Widener Branch Library, which serves the communities of Strawberry Mansion and Allegheny West. The doors are always open to anyone in search of resources, homework help, a good book and a safe place.
“We’re more than just a library,” said Christina Patton, a librarian who also grew up in the Strawberry Mansion area and knows the importance of educating, encouraging and helping the children and adults in her community. “We work hard to set a good example for the community and doing things that will positively impact them.”
In 2005, the city paid $2 million to move the library to the 2800 block of Lehigh Ave., expand their book collection, purchase more computers and other resources that the residents desperately needed.
Since a large percentage of community members cannot afford a computer and Internet services at their home and there is a lack of resources for the children in school, Patton spends most of her day helping children with their homework, teaching the elderly how to operate the computers, organizing free library sponsored programs for the community and assisting unemployed adults with their job applications.
“It’s a rewarding experience to see how many community members come and participate at the programs we host, especially the children,” said Patton, who has organized a homework helper, knitting, college prep, Medicare enrollment and many more programs. “They come willing to learn and have fun in a safe environment.”
The Widener Branch Library is happily picking up the slack by giving students the necessary one-on-one attention they need in order to learn.