A Strategy for Maintaining Relevance: The Free Library of Philadelphia in the 21st Century
Siobhan Reardon, President and Director of the Free Library of Philadelphia
Siobhan Reardon is President and Director of the Free Library of Philadelphia, the first woman to serve in this capacity. Since joining the Free Library in 2008, Ms. Reardon has spearheaded the Library’s initiative to move beyond its walls by creating computer and internet outposts called Hot Spots that offer free access and training in partnership with local organizations in underserved neighborhoods, in the city’s first roving “techmobile,” and at the Philadelphia International Airport, where travelers can access the internet for free and download library materials on the go.
In addition, Ms. Reardon steered the creation of an ambitious five-year strategic plan for the Library, underscored by a mission to advance literacy, guide learning, and inspire curiosity. Ms. Reardon’s vision for the future—Building Inspiration: 21st Century Libraries Initiative—includes the launch of a new model of service wherein neighborhood libraries will undergo physical and programmatic changes to directly respond to and meet the needs of the surrounding neighborhood. It also includes the renovation and reimagining of the Parkway Central Library.
In addition, she has begun implementation of a significant organizational restructuring of her 800-member staff, aiming to improve efficiencies, internal communications, and customer experience, all while creating critical new positions such as that of the Digital Resource Specialist. In 2014, the Free Library Foundation, which Ms. Reardon also oversees, merged with the renowned Rosenbach Museum & Library, combining two of the finest collections of rare materials into one of world-class standing with strengths in Americana and British, American, and Modernist literature. For these efforts and her visionary leadership of the Free Library, Ms. Reardon was named Library Journal’s Librarian of the Year in 2015.