PHILADELPHIA, April 29, 2009—Today, the Director of the federal agency, Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), Anne-Imelda M. Radice, visited the Free Library of Philadelphia which has been the recipient of $4.5 million in grants from IMLS over the past nine years.
Dr. Radice was greeted by Library President and Director, Siobhan Reardon who discussed the current challenges of the Free Library system. Dr. Radice said it is clear that today libraries across the country serve as their community’s center and with the enormous increase in usage in the past year, need our support more than ever.
Three librarians spoke to Dr. Radice about how IMLS grants helped them choose careers in librarianship and made it possible for them to complete their education. “Growing Our Own: Cultivating Future Librarians and Library Leaders at the Free Library of Philadelphia” was a three year grant which enabled the Library to involve teens and undergraduates in training, mentoring, and tuition reimbursement. The Library is currently finishing another three year grant, “A Regional Initiative: Growing New Leaders Today for the Library of the Future” which enables the Free Library to partner with four suburban county library systems to increase the number of trained, professional librarians in southeastern Pennsylvania focusing on children and teens.
Following the meeting with the Library trainees, Dr. Radice visited the Parkway Central Library’s conservation lab and saw the results of two past IMLS grants which made it possible for the Free Library to preserve and then digitize its important collections of United States Centennial rare photographs as well as digitizing over 3,000 extraordinary medieval manuscripts. The preservation and digitizing of important library collections is a significant grant program of IMLS.
Dr. Radice’s visit to Philadelphia coincides with the American Association of Museums conference.
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The Free Library of Philadelphia system consists of 49 branches, three regional libraries, the Parkway Central Library, and the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. With more than 6 million visits annually, the Free Library is one of the most widely used educational and cultural institutions in Philadelphia.