Philadelphia City Solicitor Shelley Smith will await a written legal ruling in the hotly contested library-closings case before the city files its formal notice of appeal, Mayor Nutter said yesterday.

The written ruling is expected Monday from Common Pleas Judge Idee C. Fox, who in a preliminary, oral decision from the bench Tuesday enjoined the city from closing 11 of the city's 54 branch libraries unless the Nutter administration gets prior approval from City Council.

The city targeted the libraries for closure, at an estimated savings of $8 million a year, as part of its effort to address a projected $1 billion five-year budget deficit.

Fox's preliminary ruling is based on a 20-year-old city ordinance that requires Council to approve decisions to close or abandon city-owned facilities. Nutter strenuously objected to the ruling. He said it hampers his executive power to run the city and immediately instructed the law department to appeal.

Because the devil is in the details, the city is awaiting a written decision before deciding how to frame its appeal.

The plan to close the libraries is part of a comprehensive belt-tightening program proposed in an emergency address by Nutter in November. The austerity plan includes deactivating seven fire department engine and ladder companies, closing scores of city swimming pools, other cuts in city services and salary reductions for top administrators.

Since Nutter's initial announcement, overall economic conditions have worsened, applying even more pressure to the city's strained finances.

Opponents of the library closings, including seven private citizens and Council members Bill Green, Jannie Blackwell and Jack Kelly, filed suit to halt Nutter from taking action. After two days of testimony, Fox ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.

Beyond the ruling's impact on the balance of power between the city's executive and legislative branches, Nutter said yesterday, it hurts his efforts to get private funding to reopen some of the targeted branches as community based learning centers.

"This ruling runs the risk of significantly hampering our efforts to get the re-use plans in order," he said, "because it has now caused a chill in some of those discussions and created a tremendous amount of confusion with potential funders."

Among the options the administration is exploring is to have the funding channeled through nonprofit community-development corporations and other private sources.

Although few details have emerged about the idea to "repurpose" the targeted libraries as "knowledge centers," at least one proposal calls for the New Kensington Community Development Corporation, a nonprofit with offices on Frankford Ave., to take over the Fishtown Community Library as a "nascent model of the library of the future" under a long-term lease.

Transferring the library's administration from city to private nonprofit hands, according to the proposal, would preserve its "physical location as a unique resource for the community while at the same time developing a community supported model for maintaining important community services previously offered by a formal library."