Lack of air conditioning forces library to close for summer

Northwest branch to extend hours during closure

READING, Pa. - Instead of diving into pools, Heather Ferguson's five kids like to dive into a good book over the summer.

"My kids are all very avid readers," said Fergunson. "This is where they spend most of their summers."

But not this year. The summer heat is once again proving too much for the northeast branch of the Reading Public Library.

"It's truly unfortunate," said Bronwen Gamble, executive director of the Reading Public Library. "We are frustrated. The city of Reading is frustrated."

The northeast branch at 1348 North 11th Street is without air conditioning for the third straight summer. Library officials will be forced to close the branch for the summer on July 1. They said this week, the heat made the temperature inside rise to 88 degrees. They fear that will go up to 90 degrees this week.

"That's not healthy or safe for patrons or staff," said Gamble.

The move means Ferguson's kids will miss out on the library's reading programs and the LEGO club.

"I can't always get them down to the main branch or one of the other ones," said Ferguson. "I just think something else can be done instead of closing the library. This is the only branch that got closed because all the other ones got air conditioning."

This summer, the northeast branch will set up an outdoor desk with limited items available for checkout during the following hours:

  • 10 a.m. until noon on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays
  • 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. on Wednesdays
  • Noon until 2 p.m. on Saturdays
  • Closed Fridays and Sundays

The northwest branch at 901 Schuylkill Avenue will also offer extended hours while the northeast branch is closed. It will be open Mondays through Thursdays and Saturdays.. 

The main library at South Fifth and Franklin streets and the newly renovated southeast branch at 1426 Perkiomen Avenue will maintain their regular hours.

This is the third consecutive summer the library branch as been dealing with a lack of air conditioning. The problem began in 2015, when a power outage damaged the building's cooling unit.

"It's a combination of grant funding, community block grant funding and each one has their own specific requirements," said Gamble.

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