With an expansion set to begin in about two years, The Philadelphia Free Library at 1901 Vine St. has been undergoing much-needed renovations in the past months, and we’re starting to see some real progress. Funded by State dollars, exterior renovation work includes facade cleaning and re-pointing, window replacement, brass door cleaning and polishing, dealing with some long-time drainage issues, and dramatically improving Shakespeare Park. The park, which sits directly in front of the library and floats above I-676, was in need of some serious TLC with cracked pavement, patchy grass, and lights that seemed ready to fall over.

Current View of the construction going on in Shakespeare Park

A rendering of what we can expect in just a couple of weeks

In a few weeks, the park will sport new lights, new grass, new flowery gardens, and newly paved paths. The newly renovated park will be a much improved public space for neighbors and tourists to enjoy. All of the exterior work should be completed by the end of the month, but expect fences to remain on site, at least through July 4th. Wouldn’t want a mob of patriotic revelers ruining the beautiful new grass.

According to Sandy Horroks, VP of External Affairs for the Library, interior work has also recently gotten underway at the library. The Philbrick Popular Library, home of recently released books, audiobooks and DVDs, is undergoing a serious renovation that should be finished by the end of 2011. In 2012, the 3rd floor, containing the rare book and theater collections, and the 4th floor, containing meeting rooms, a kitchen, and Books to Go, will be closed to the public while they are remodeled. It seems that by the time the expansion is underway, we’ll have a much shinier version of our current library to enjoy, inside and out. Kind of makes you want to go home and read a book.