Lawncrest: Ever-Changing Library Offers Knowledge to the Neighborhood

The Lawncrest branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia is making a difference in this Northeast Philadelphia community by serving as a resource for residents to get help and information about a variety of topics.


Lawncrest resident Barbara Futch makes the trip to the library twice a week.

“I come here for the books, I come here to use the computer, I come here for the peace and quiet,” she said.

Futch attended the March 22 workshop about the steps to take in order to start up a new business in Lawncrest. Phil Cunningham (left), a mentor with the business nonprofit SCORE, taught the class.

“I have done some of the computer courses,” Futch said. “This is the first time I did the SCORE course. I wasn’t aware of it until I was out here today.”


Debra Mikus (right), the branch manager and children’s librarian, loves working with preschool-age kids and toddlers, so she does three or four preschool storytimes per month at the library, and also periodically goes into area daycare centers to read to children.

“That’s my passion – to increase the literacy in this neighborhood, which I feel starts with babies and toddlers,” she said. “And getting parents interested in coming to the library and reading to their children.”

Mikus said the library’s main goal is to try to implement a variety of programs that appeal to a range of demographics. The library is trying to incorporate more programs for seniors, create different kinds of programs to advance literacy in school-age kids, and also bring in more small-business programs.


Lately, the Lawncrest staff has been helping seniors who are uncomfortable doing online tax forms by replacing them with paper forms. Next, the library is planning on holding a workshop for seniors who are adjusting to new smartphones, tablets or other digital devices and have questions about how they work.

“The library is ever-evolving and changing. … The kind of programs we put on are changing with the needs [of the community],” Mikus explained. “If you didn’t do that, then you would become stagnant, you wouldn’t be a valuable part of the community. So you really do have to be flexible and constantly evaluate what we’re doing here.”

-Text, images and video by Claire Voeglein

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