Siobhan A. Reardon
President and Director – Free Library of Philadelphia
Siobhan A. Reardon is President and Director of the Free Library of Philadelphia, the first woman to serve in this capacity. Since joining the Free Library in 2008, Ms. Reardon has steered the creation and ongoing implementation of an ambitious strategic plan for the Library, underscored by a mission to advance literacy, guide learning, and inspire curiosity.
A key facet of Ms. Reardon's vision for the future is the Building Inspiration: 21st-Century Libraries Initiative, a new model of service wherein neighborhood libraries undergo physical and programmatic changes to directly respond to and meet the needs of the surrounding neighborhoods. Five pilot 21st-Century Libraries opened between 2016 and 2017, after undergoing dramatic renovation; all have seen increased usage since reopening. A recent highlight of the initiative is the renovation and reimagining of Philadelphia's Parkway Central Library: in April 2019, new, modern spaces for entrepreneurs, job seekers, cultural and civic engagement, and community dialogue, as well as a center exclusively for teens, were unveiled at Parkway Central and opened to the public.
Ms. Reardon's dedication to expanding access points to literacy has manifested in the creation of the Culinary Literacy Center, the first kitchen-classroom in a public library in the country, and the Library's convening and managing of Read by 4th, a citywide coalition of parents and partners protecting every child's right to read. She has developed numerous initiatives aimed at training and supporting Philadelphia's job seekers and small businesses, including the Business Research and Innovation Center (BRIC), which works with job seekers and entrepreneurs to start and grow their dreams, and the staff role of Digital Resource Specialist, a librarian position committed to guiding customers through new technology and online resources. Further community enrichment has been spearheaded by Ms. Reardon through the establishment of the Division of Cultural and Civic Engagement, which seeks to grow and enhance the city's public life through cultural engagement, civic dialogue, and the free exchange of ideas, and the recently launched Languages and Learning Center, dedicated to supporting the individual learning goals of Philadelphia's adults and removing barriers to sustainable employment.
In 2014, the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation, which Ms. Reardon also oversees, became a formal partner of The Rosenbach, linking two of the finest collections of rare literary materials into one of world-class standing, with strengths in Americana and British, American, and modernist literature. In addition, she has implemented a significant organizational restructuring of her 700-member staff, aiming to improve efficiencies, internal communications, and customer experience, all while creating critical new positions reflective of the work of a 21st-century library organization. For these efforts and her visionary stewardship of the Free Library, Ms. Reardon was named Library Journal's Librarian of the Year in 2015.
Previously, Ms. Reardon was Executive Director of the Westchester Library System, a 38-member cooperative library system in New York. Prior to that, she was Deputy Executive Director of the Brooklyn Public Library, serving as Chief Operating Officer of the nation's fifth-largest library system. She also served as Acting Executive Director and Director of Finance, responsible for the Brooklyn Public Library's $85 million annual budget.