Philadelphia Sights


Free Library of Philadelphia

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Free Library of Philadelphia Review

Philadelphia calls its vast public-library system the Fabulous Freebie. Founded in 1891, the central library has more than 1 million volumes. With its grand entrance hall, sweeping marble staircase, and enormous reading rooms, this Greek Revival building looks the way libraries should. It's also the site of regular author readings and other book-related fairs and events. With more than 12,000 musical scores, the Edwin S. Fleisher collection is the largest of its kind in the world. The department of social science and history has nearly 100,000 charts, maps, and guidebooks. The rare-book room is a beautiful suite housing first editions of Dickens, ancient Sumerian clay tablets, illuminated medieval manuscripts, and more modern manuscripts, including Poe's "The Raven." The children's department houses the city's largest collection of children's books in a made-for-kids setting. In the works for a tentative 2012 opening is a 130,000-square-foot addition designed by acclaimed architect Moshe Safdie that will house a new children's department, an area for teens, a self-publishing center, exhibition galleries, and a 550-seat auditorium.

    Contact Information

  • Address: 1901 Vine Street, between 19th St. and Benjamin Franklin Pkwy., Logan Circle, Philadelphia, PA, 19103 | Map It
  • Phone: 215/686–5322
  • Cost: Free
  • Hours: Mon.–Thurs. 9–9, Fri. 9–6, Sat. 9–5, Sun. 1–5; tours of rare book room weekdays at 11
  • Website:
  • Location: Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Updated: 05-19-2011

Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating:  

    It's a library all right

    Basically just a library in an architecturally attractive building. Nice enough for a quick look-see.

    by bachslunch, 10/19/08

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