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We’re proud of Eric Hitchner’s work at Building 21 Philadelphia. Read more about how Eric, an English teacher, started a library to meet the needs of his students and community.

Here is an excerpt from Grid’s article: Budget cuts have shuttered school libraries for decades. A young English teacher has built one from scratch. You can read the entire article here.

“In 1991, the School District of Philadelphia had 176 paid librarians,” says Debra Kachel, advocacy committee co-chair for the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association. “By our best estimate, that number has dropped to four. Philadelphia may have the worst public school library system in the U.S.”

Thank goodness for exceptions. Eric Hitchner, 33, an English teacher at Building 21, a public high school in West Oak Lane, took a box of books into his classroom five years ago.

“The students got excited and asked if they could borrow them,” says Hitchner, a poet. “I realized we needed more than a shelf of books.”

The library has grown to a room with some 4,000 books.

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