The Northeast Regional Library is second only to the Central Library in size, available resources and number of staff. Located near the intersection of Cottman and Bustleton Avenues, it serves the greater northeast area as a regional library, and the entire city for research.
The area served by Northeast Regional Library encompasses land that was originally Lower Dublin Township and parts of Oxford and Delaware Townships. Settlers from northern Europe first arrived there in the seventeenth century, and established farms. The area remained primarily agricultural until the early twentieth century. In 1854, these townships, along with the boroughs of Frankford and Bridesburg, were consolidated into Philadelphia County.
In 1955, the Free Library of Philadelphia developed the concept of the regional library, which would serve as a branch for its immediate area, and also as a bridge between the comprehensive collections of the Central Library and the more modest resources offered by neighborhood branches. A proposal to build the first regional library was approved for the 1957-1962 capital budgets. On July 11, 1962, ground was broken for the Northeast Regional Library, the first in a proposed series of regional libraries that would be built in each geographical sector of the city.
The city's northeast saw rapid development after World War II. Large tracts of vacant land were soon filled with thousands of row homes and twins. The homes were occupied by returning servicemen, many the sons of immigrants.
Retail development soon followed. In 1952, ground was broken for a $5,000,000 shopping complex that included a department store and supermarket at Cottman and Castor Avenues. The Roosevelt Mall opened in the early sixties, followed by another department store at Cottman Avenue and Roosevelt Boulevard in 1965. The site selected for Northeast Regional is located in the heart of this shopping complex.
Northeast Regional offers a collection of more than 150,000 books divided into four subject departments, including the children's department. A fifth department offers an extensive collection of periodicals and newspapers. Each department occupies an entire floor of the building; the lowest level is an auditorium meeting room. The circulation desk is located in the ground floor lobby of the building. When you visit, look for the 9x44' three-dimensional wooden mural that adorns the right wall of the lobby.
The children's department of the library opened on Monday, October 28, 1963; the adult departments opened in December, 1963. In 1998, the library was renovated as part of the "Changing Lives" campaign, which brought Internet service to every branch.