PHILADELPHIA, PA April 17, 2013— In a historic move, the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation and The Rosenbach Museum & Library today announced their intent to merge, creating The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation. The affiliation will bring together two of the world’s preeminent collections of rare books, artifacts, and manuscripts, including Bram Stoker’s notes for Dracula with Edgar Allan Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue, and thus creating one of the greatest collections of rare books, manuscripts, Americana, and art anywhere in the world. This historic, joint decision will bring advantages to each institution, and most important, it will further solidify Philadelphia’s position as an educational and cultural leader in the nation. Today’s announcement marks the signing of a letter of intent following board approval by each of the organizations on April 16, 2013.
Siobhan A. Reardon, President and Director of the Free Library commented on this historic partnership: “The aim of this partnership is to build and sustain collections of Americana and English literature that are among the greatest in the world while furthering Philadelphia’s status as an educational and cultural leader. We couldn’t be more excited about The Rosenbach of the Free Library. We thank our philanthropic partners and future donors for helping us share these incredible collections with a wider audience than ever before.”
The Rosenbach of the Free Library will remain at its current Delancey Place location, will be maintained under the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation, and will be funded through private philanthropic support. The merger will be made possible by a bridge fund combining the generous support of many philanthropic partners over the next five years, including The Pew Charitable Trusts.
“The Pew Charitable Trusts applauds the visionary leadership of these two venerable Philadelphia institutions, who made a bold decision that will protect some of the world’s most significant and rare works of literature,” said Rebecca Rimel, president and CEO of The Pew Charitable Trusts. “Organizations entrusted with the wise stewardship of their mission and resources must be willing to make informed and difficult decisions that ensure the long-term success of their ventures, and this merger is an inspiring example of two leaders and their boards doing so to best serve the public interest.”
"The Rosenbach Museum and Library and the Free Library of Philadelphia have both worked to advance what they call 'the life of the mind' for many years. In combination, they become a stronger, more robust institution,” said William Penn Foundation Board Chair David Haas. “Their collections and programming complement each other effectively, increasing opportunities for learning, exploration and creative pursuits by residents of all ages, and reinforcing Philadelphia as a vibrant, innovative city with world-class culture.”
The planned merger formalizes a long relationship between the Free Library and The Rosenbach Museum & Library that goes back more than 65 years. One of the Library’s first gifts of rare books was from the A.S.W. Rosenbach Collection of Early American Children’s Books in 1947. Dr. Rosenbach was a Library Trustee and served as the adviser to many of the Free Library’s Rare Book Department donors—such as Colonel Richard A. Gimbel, P.A. B. Widener, and William Elkins—giving the Free Library great strength in early Americana, British literature, and Judaica, among others.
“The partnership between the Free Library and The Rosenbach Museum and Library makes perfect sense, from our joint historical past to our aligned missions to inspire curiosity,” said Derick Dreher, Director of The Rosenbach Museum & Library. “Uniting these two great collections will result in increased community and scholarly interest, boost educational programming, produce stellar exhibitions, and create a bright future for some of the rarest and most precious collections in existence.”
About the Free Library’s Rare Book Department
The Rare Book Department of the Free Library is one of the largest among public libraries in the United States . The Library was gifted its first rare books in 1899 and has been stewarding rare collections ever since. Its holdings encompass materials from a span of over 4,000 years and number nearly 100,000 books and manuscripts. The collections are far-reaching and range from Sumerian cuneiform tablets to incunabula to editions of the works of Horace to Americana to children’s literature, with particular strengths in the works and papers of Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, and Beatrix Potter. The Rare Book Department has ties to A.S.W. Rosenbach, who was a Trustee of the Library Board in its nascence and whose collection of early American children’s books were gifted to the Free Library in 1947. Additionally, many of the works in the Rare Book collection were purchased through the Rosenbach shop by significant Philadelphia collectors.
About The Rosenbach Museum & Library
The Rosenbach Museum & Library was founded in the first half of the twentieth century by Dr. A.S.W. Rosenbach and his brother Philip, preeminent dealers in rare books, manuscripts, and art. Renowned dealers in books, manuscripts, and ?ne art, the brothers played a central role in the development of private libraries that later became our nation’s most important public collections of rare books, such as the Folger and Huntington Libraries. The brothers’ own personal collection, now the core of The Rosenbach, features treasures the brothers were unable to part with, including the only surviving copy of Benjamin Franklin’s ?rst Poor Richard Almanac and the manuscript of James Joyce’s Ulysses. The collection has since grown to include the papers of poet Marianne Moore, Bram Stoker’s notes for Dracula, and the drawings of Maurice Sendak, adding richness and relevance to the experience of visiting The Rosenbach. Since opening to the public in 1954, its collections have grown to include 30,000 rare books, 300,000 manuscripts, 20,000 works of art on paper, and a number of other objects.
About the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation
The Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation is a private, non-profit, 501c3 entity that supports the programs and activities of the Free Library of Philadelphia. Through the generosity of individuals, foundations, and corporations, the Foundation supports special programs such as the Authors Events Series; One Book, One Philadelphia; the Literacy Enrichment Afterschool Program; and Summer Reading and enriches lives through literacy, cultural, and educational experiences. Library’’
About the Free Library of Philadelphia
The Free Library of Philadelphia system consists of 49 neighborhood libraries, three regional libraries, the Parkway Central Library, and the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. With more than 6 million in-person and 9 million online visits annually, the Free Library is one of the most widely used educational and cultural institutions in Philadelphia.