Free Library of Philadelphia
Branch champions compete in the Harry Potter Tournament Branch champions compete in the Harry Potter Tournament
Harry Potter Tournament - Wizards are quizzed: For weeks, young Harry Potter buffs in Northeast Philadelphia read, re-read, and then took part in “Jeopardy”-style quiz competitions about their hero. On August 7, 2002, branch champions from 11 libraries gathered at the Northeast Regional Library for the final tournament before a crowd of anxious fans. Four exciting playoff rounds later, Amanda Smith of the Katharine Drexel Branch was hailed as grand champion. Amanda’s prize was a $500 U.S. Savings Bond given by the M&T Bank, the event’s sponsor.

Renovation of the last three library branches proceeds. Construction on the Walnut Street West Branch is expected to be completed in the spring of 2004. Construction on the George Institute Library should be completed in the summer of 2004. The Widener Branch - which will move to a completely new building at 26th and Lehigh - should be completed in mid-2004.

In June of this year, 250 people celebrated the 90th anniversary of the Passyunk Branch with good food, a saxophone quartet, and welcome words from fellow South Philadelphian Dr. Stephen L. DeFelice, author of Old Italian Neighborhood Values. The party also recognized State Representative Robert C. Donatucci, who had helped secure a State grant to fund the branch’s new landscaping, outdoor café, and three murals.

Murals also grace the new Reading Garden at the Wyoming Branch, where flowering trees, hydrangeas, lilacs, heather, lilies, and iris abound. Among the plantings are benches, a birdbath, and a “reading tree” surrounded by large rocks that serve as seats. Three-dimensional, book-shaped murals designed by Shira Walinsky represent folk tales from the many different nationalities now sharing the neighborhood. The project was initiated by the Indo-Chinese American Council and received funding and assistance from the William Penn Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Philadelphia Green. Teen artists from the Philadelphia Recreation Department’s Mural Arts Corps and many other young workers and neighborhood volunteers - 72 in all - helped make it happen.