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For the first time in three years, Philadelphians can visit a public library this weekend. And next weekend. And the weekend after that.

The Free Library announced this week that 10 of its 54 branches will begin offering regularly scheduled Saturdays hours, allowing access for people who’ve lamented the lack of opportunity to visit branches outside of work or school hours.

It starts this weekend and is currently scheduled to last through June 10. At that point, the library will “examine what changes we may want to make to Saturday service and plan for additional weekend hours in the fall,” according to Free Library spokesperson Kaitlyn Foti Kalosy.

The hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Saturday, with a few exceptions: branches are closed April 8 for Easter weekend and May 27 for Memorial Day weekend.

Regular Saturday service has proved challenging to maintain in recent years.

In 2018, the Free Library slashed Saturday hours, going from all branches being open during the school year to fewer than half. Library leadership at the time attributed the move to a lack of funding. The Mayor’s Office, though, pointed to “staffing and management decisions” and reportedly worked with the library to reallocate staff and pinpoint funded but unfilled positions so that more branches could open on weekends.

The following year’s schedule included Saturday hours from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. for every branch during the school year, thanks to a funding boost to hire more staff. But then came 2020, bringing COVID closures, budget cuts, and layoffs.

Since then, many Free Library branches have been operating on reduced schedules, with some even struggling to stay open on weekdays due to a lack of workers.

The library scored a win last year from the mayor and City Council: a major budget increase, which came with the clear goal of “stabilizing five-day service throughout the city.” Since then, the focus has been filling gaps in staffing to make that possible — a process that often moves slowly because of all the steps involved with civil service hiring.

The budget increase allowed the library to “hire more staff, make additional building improvements, and offer overtime” for Saturday shifts, per spokesperson Kalosy.

The dedication of library employees was essential in being able to make the change, she told Billy Penn.

“Most importantly, our frontline staff have volunteered to work this overtime opportunity to show their support and care for the communities we serve,” Kalosy said. “Without them, opening 10 libraries wouldn’t be possible.”

The branches rolling out Saturday hours are spread across the city: one each in South Philly, Southwest Philly, and the River Wards; two each in West Philly and Northeast Philly; and three scattered across North Philly.

The libraries were chosen to ensure that each council district has one location open on Saturday, Kalosy said.

You can see where they are on the map below, and you can find the full list of locations, including their addresses and phone numbers, on the library’s website.

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Asha Prihar is a general assignment reporter at Billy Penn. She has previously written for several daily newspapers across the Midwest, and she covered Pennsylvania state government and politics for The...