We asked Philadelphians what they need from their public library. This is what we heard.


"The biggest hurdle to getting people to eat healthy is rooted in the economics of worrying about how you're gonna pay to keep the lights on and keep a roof over your head and keep something in your belly.”

Male, South Philly


“Just speaking to some of my neighbors who have been here for generations, I wonder if they are being lost in the shuffle sometimes.”

Male, 31


"If you're working with an impoverished community, they can barely feed themselves. They're not really going to go to a community center and spend money to enrich themselves because they don't see the investment there. As a starving person who works in the restaurant industry, I feel that way, too."

Male, South Philly


“Two blocks away they’re still living in poverty. My question is, maybe they just don’t know where to get the resources from.”

Female, South Philly


“They’re skipping classes and they’re out here doing what they see older kids do, which is crime, sell drugs, rob, steal.”

Male, 31


"It’s sad. You know what I mean? You don’t see no kids in the street. We used to play marbles."

Male, South Philly



"My first life experience, like real close to home was 14. My best friend was killed on the corner of Wilder Street. Then after that, everybody started getting killed. "

Female, 24

“Everywhere I look in South Philly, I see a family. I see a family going through the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful. And when I think of South Philly...the number one strength is family.”

Female, 22


"So what kind of place would you envision like an ideal world for you and your kids? Our own planet, probably. Just us. We can start our own...population. Start over."

Female, 24


"It's just I think when they first come [to the US], everything's so weird and it just takes awhile... so I feel like there's just not enough support offered."

Female, 31


“For homeless…there’s not enough places to live in. I was homeless at one point, and…even if you got in line at a certain time, you weren’t guaranteed a bed.”

Male, 31


Photos by Nema Etebar

We also interviewed library staff about their work. Click here to learn why library staff are important partners for population health.