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V12 2009 INDEX       E-SYLUM ARCHIVE

The E-Sylum: Volume 12, Number 5, February 1, 2009, Article 11

AMERICA'S OLDEST FREE LIBRARY MAY CLOSE

This is non-numismatic, but the bibliophiles among us should find cause for concern in this article. The current economic crisis could force the closing of the oldest continuously operating free library in the U.S. -Editor
Delaware County's Darby Free Library, which was founded in 1743 and is believed to be the oldest continuously operating public library in America, will be forced to close its doors at year's end if somebody doesn't write a fat check, the Daily News has learned.

"We're on the chopping block," said Susan Borders, director of the library at 10th and Main streets, near the Southwest Philly border. "We thought we may have had four years left, but after going over our finances, we only have this year."

Founded by 29 Quaker townsmen, the library received its first shipment of 45 volumes from London in November 1743, with the assistance of botanist John Bartram.

"It's older than our country," said Raymond Trent, a longtime bibliographic assistant at the University of Pennsylvania Law School who has donated books, DVDs and other reference materials to Darby's library.

Some books from its original collection - including John Milton's Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained and Sir Walter Raleigh's The History of the World - are still displayed in the two-story brick building, built by Charles Bonsall in 1872 at a cost of $8,895.54. Others are at the Library Company of Philadelphia, founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1731 as a subscription library.

Darby Library


"If it does not get support now, it will not survive," Borders wrote in a summary to the Darby Library Company board at last week's meeting, when the possible closure was announced.

Tax-deductible contributions can be sent to the Darby Library Company, P.O. Box 164, Darby, PA 19023.

To read the complete article, see: Darby library faces the ax/ Oldest in U.S., it's in $ pinch (http://www.philly.com/dailynews/local/20090122_Darby_library
_faces_the_ax__Oldest_in_U_S___it_s_in___pinch.html)



Wayne Homren, Editor

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