by Autumn M. and Alexis A.
You might think of the Parkway Central Library as a great place to check out your favorite books and movies, but there’s so much more we have to offer and a lot of beautiful sights in the actual building to see!
Maybe you already know that if you can’t make it down to the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, you can select from hundreds of ebooks and audiobooks using Overdrive, right from the comfort of your own home (or anywhere, really!). But did you know you can also tour the library from home? In this new series of videos, you’ll learn all about our fabulous Beaux-Arts building, opened to the public in 1927, how it was devised and constructed, and all the amazing materials, spaces, and programs you can find on each of its five floors.
First, you’ll learn about the history of the Free Library and how architect Julian Abele – one of the first renowned African American architects of his time—was inspired to design the building. You’ll tour the grand lobby, visit Philbrick Hall where our popular fiction is housed, check out some of the great programming in the Music Department (where you can also borrow musical instruments with your library card!), and visit our West Gallery exhibition space, among other highlights.
Next, you’ll visit the Children’s Department, Field Teen Center, and Business Resource and Innovation Center (BRIC) on the ground floor, discovering some of the wonderful programs and spaces the Free Library offers to our city’s youth, small business owners, and entrepreneurs. Montgomery Auditorium is also home to our award-winning Author Events series!
Then you’ll climb to the second floor, saying hi to the statue of Free Library founder, Dr. Pepper (not that Dr. Pepper!), and taking in a bird’s-eye view of the atrium where the architectural details of Julian Abele’s building are most striking. On the second floor, you’ll tour the Art and Literature departments and discover our Languages and Learning Center where you can get help with tutoring or learning a new language.
You won’t want to miss a visit to the third floor where the Free Library keeps many of its wonderful treasures in the Rare Book Department. From ancient cuneiform tablets (some of the earliest recorded writings) to first editions of famous manuscripts, you’ll be amazed at what you can discover!
Finally, you’ll visit the fourth floor, which boasts the Skyline Room entertainment space for events like weddings and special Author Events, along with the stunning rooftop terrace with views of the Philadelphia skyline. You’ll also view the Culinary Literacy Center, a commercial-grade teaching kitchen where students and adults alike can learn to make their favorite recipes. Sign up for a class today!
Parkway Central Library is not just a building for books and reading but a thriving space for anyone and everyone. And if you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, just ask one of our expert library staff—they can help you discover and learn!