Come one, come all: After a year and a half of undergoing extensive renovation and expansion, Lillian Marrero Library will reopen its doors on Saturday, November 18! This neighborhood hub, located at 601 W. Lehigh Avenue, has been reimagined as part of the Free Library’s Building Inspiration: 21st Century Libraries Initiative, a transformational project to reshape neighborhood libraries in Philadelphia to meet the changing needs of today’s library customers. To see some before, during, and after construction images, view our Lillian Marrero Library photo album on Flickr!
Join us for a celebration of this incredible project and community, as we welcome Lillian Marrero’s North Philadelphia neighbors home. From 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 18, neighbors can enjoy face-painting, balloon art, fun learning activities, bomba dancing, food, music, giveaways, and more at the new Lillian Marrero Library. Free Library President and Director Siobhan A. Reardon and other special guests will give remarks at 12:00 p.m.
During the celebration, attendees are invited to explore the library's new, state-of-the-art spaces and features, including a vibrant Children’s Library, customized Pre-K Zone, and dedicated Teen Zone. Other enhancements include a welcoming, living-room-like space known as The Common; an improved circulation desk; updated program, meeting, and study rooms; and a computer bar. The library has also been made entirely ADA accessible. The Free Library collaborated with architect James. R. Keller, who specializes in design and planning for libraries, to reimagine this neighborhood library.
Supported by the Percent for Art Program—an initiative of the City’s Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy—the library will feature a piece of site-specific, commissioned artwork created by Julia Staples. Titled Shared Voices, Common Hearts, it consists of a series of black-and-white portrait photographs of community members. Set against culturally inspired background patterns, the images reflect the diverse and multigenerational library community. These timeless images pay tribute and respect to the lives and heritage of the people of Fairhill. Ms. Staples spent a significant amount of time at the library, photographing members of the community and listening to their stories.
The Building Inspiration initiative has been made possible in large part by a historic $25 million grant from the William Penn Foundation—the largest private gift ever received by the Free Library. Other essential support came from the City of Philadelphia, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation. The Free Library is also grateful to Dale and Richard Levy and Patricia Kind, who supported innovative new spaces at Lillian Marrero Library, as well as the larger Building Inspiration initiative.
Following the celebration, the hours of operation for Lillian Marrero Library will be:
Mondays and Wednesdays 11:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m.
Tuesdays and Thursdays 10:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
Fridays and Saturdays 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
The original Lillian Marrero Library was built in 1906, using funds donated by the philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, who committed $1.5 million in 1903 for the purpose of building more Free Library of Philadelphia locations. The white limestone Grecian-style building was once the largest library in Pennsylvania. Formerly known as the Lehigh Avenue Library, it was renamed in 2005 in honor of Lillian Marrero, a community organizer and Free Library librarian.
We can’t wait to welcome the community back to their Lillian Marrero Library!