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Free Library of Philadelphia

Incredible collection of rare books, special collections and media

Free Library of Philadelphia

The Free Library of Philadelphia is located right on Logan Circle along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Credit: B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia


The gorgeous Beaux-Arts building along the culture-heavy Benjamin Franklin Parkway serves as the heart of the Free Library of Philadelphia system, which includes more than 50 branches around the city.

In addition to typical library activities—checking out and returning books—visitors to this Central Library can explore a massive collection that boasts some notable and rare works, such as collections of Edgar Allan Poe, Beatrix Potter and medieval manuscripts.

The Map Collection opens up a world of more than 130,000 current and historical maps, and former band geeks can hum along to one of the strongest sheet music collections (numbering 350,000) in the country, plus the largest lending library of orchestral performance material in the world. Reservations to view rare materials (including collections of Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, Beatrix Potter, medieval manuscripts and more) may be required, though the library offers free tours six days a week.

Author readings and lectures, special exhibits and events and an annual festival keep Philadelphians celebrating Ben Franklin’s idea of free public literature all year long.

The Rare Book Department

The Library boast more than 100,000 books and manuscripts in its Rare Book Department. Click below to learn more.

The Rare Book Department

Insider Tip

At the Free Library of Philadelphia, 11:00 a.m. tours on weekdays lead visitors to the Rare Book Department to view such objects as the actual raven that was the inspiration for the famed Edgar Allan Poe poem.

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