For Release: Immediately
Department of External Affairs
Free Library of Philadelphia
1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710
FAX (215) 567-7850
Contact: Communications and Development
For Release: Immediately
Contact: Communications and Development


Big and Small, Books for All exhibition will highlight Very Small and Extremely Large Items
from the Library’s Special Collections

PHILADELPHIA, October 1, 2017—The Free Library of Philadelphia’s Rare Book Department will mount Big and Small, Books for All, a family-oriented exhibition featuring extraordinary books selected for their extreme sizes and unusual shapes. Big and Small will open October 23, 2017 in the William B. Dietrich Gallery and run through March 24, 2018.

Hundreds of items will be on display, including a 4,000-year-old Sumerian tablet that is smaller than a bar of soap, a handwritten medieval music book taller than a toddler, an Armenian prayer scroll longer than an alligator, and tiny books barely the size of a pencil eraser. Visitors of all ages will be able to interact with special artifacts—such as wearable books—and explore ideas of the form, function, and meaning of the book as a physical object. In addition to items from the Library’s Rare Book Department, the exhibition includes items from the Library’s Children’s Literature Research Collection and Print and Picture Collection.

“Books come in all shapes and sizes and have their own stories to tell beyond the text they contain,” says exhibition curator Joseph Shemtov. “We’re hoping to challenge traditional notions of what people may think books look like and how we interact with them, by exploring how they impact us through their size and shape.”

As part of the exhibition, staff will host after-hours programs in the Rare Book Department—Teeny Tiny Tuesdays (December 5, 2017 and February 6, 2018) and Way-Too-Big Wednesdays (November 8, 2017 and January 10, 2018)—to highlight outsized objects in an up-close, show-and-tell manor. The exhibition will also inspire miniature-book-making programs at neighborhood libraries across the city, as well as fun food experiences in the Culinary Literacy Center, beginning in January 2018, that highlight such topics as ratio-based cooking, miniature foods, and cooking for a crowd.

The Rare Book Department galleries, including the Dietrich Gallery showcasing Big and Small, are open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday. A guided tour of the department’s general collections and the William McIntire Elkins Library is available at 11:00 a.m. every day. For more information on the Department, please visit or email

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The Free Library of Philadelphia system, with 54 locations and The Rosenbach, advances literacy, guides learning, and inspires curiosity with millions of digital and physical materials; 25,000 yearly programs and workshops; free public computers and extensive Wi-Fi; and rich special collections, including those at Parkway Central Library and at The Rosenbach of the Free Library of Philadelphia. The combined holdings of these renowned collections—which include hundreds of thousands of rare books, manuscripts, and ephemera—inspire unique exhibitions and programs throughout the year. With more than 6 million in-person and millions more online visits annually, the Free Library and The Rosenbach are among the most widely used educational and cultural institutions in Philadelphia and boast a worldwide impact.


Department of External Affairs, Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
(215) 567-7710, FAX (215) 567-7850