Friends Open Libraries

Friends and Education

By Jean Warrington

Friends are bringing back books, storytime and libraries to children in public schools in Philadelphia.  The city schools don’t have funded libraries.  This means the libraries in many elementary schools are closed down.  A group of volunteers, mostly Quakers (including PYM presiding clerk, Penny Colgan Davis), worked with the Kelly School in North Philadelphia to open the library there.  The Friends collected books, fixed up the space and staff the program on a weekly basis, seeing 600 children every week.  CBS News visited storytime and you can see their story and video online.

Now another group of Friends is replicating that program at another school, Julia de Burgos Elementary, in, North Philadelphia.  This project is spearheaded by Historic Fair Hill Inc., a project of the Philadelphia Quarterly Meeting in Fairhill.  Twenty volunteers now bus, train, carpool to the school at 401 W Indiana.  The administration and teachers are welcoming, the children are eager, and the reading volunteers feel they are making a difference.  More Friends are welcome to help restart the deBurgos school library.  Contact and apply for your clearances on line without charge.

Other news from Historic Fair Hill:

New history tour is available about Philadelphia struggles for justice as told through eight wall murals within two blocks of HFH.  Guide Carolyn Singleton, AVP teacher at Graterford Prison

The mural tour includes Wm Penn’s Quakers (The Peaceable Kingdom),  19th Century Abolitionists and Early Women’s Rights Activists, (UGRR and Women’s Anti Slavery Society)  peace activists from the late 20th century drug war (Together We Stand, Tribute to Peaches),  today’s restorative practices and issues of mass incarceration, (The Healing Walls:  Victims and Perpetrators)

Books!  Last year, Friends from six schools and seven meetings gathered  6,000 gently used and new books. HFH volunteers took them to a neighborhood school and with a teacher re opened the school library at Potter Thomas School.  Friends needed to visit library sales, yard sales, for high quality gently used children’s books. Call for pick up or take them directly to the school. Contact to get on the email list for HFH.