Special Collections enhance the Free Library of Philadelphia's educational mission by curating and making accessible historic materials, providing reliable and knowledgeable staff assistance, and offering instructional programs that promote understanding of history and culture.
Parkway Central Library, First Floor
The Edwin A. Fleisher Collection of Orchestral Music represents the largest lending library of orchestral performance material in the world, housing more than 22,000 titles and continuing to grow. Additional music holdings include two other circulating collections, the Chamber Music Collection and the Drinker Collection of Choral Music, as well as an exceptional collection of Sheet Music numbering 350,000 items.
Parkway Central Library, Second Floor
The Children's Literature Research Collection houses more than 85,000 non-circulating books published from 1837 to the present with an emphasis on juvenile books associated with the Pennsylvania region and archives of local children's authors and illustrators.
With more than 130,000 current and historical maps the collection covers every part of the world. Its special emphasis on Philadelphia and Pennsylvania maps and atlases provides a fascinating view of the development of our region over the past 70 years.
The Print and Picture Collection (PIX) is home to a variety of graphic materials including fine art prints, photographs, drawings, and artists' books. The Philadelphiana Collection contains over 20,000 images of Philadelphia, both historical and modern.
Parkway Central Library, Third Floor
One of the largest and most diverse collections in a public library, the Department offers free public access to a rotating series of exhibitions. Its holdings represent the history of written communication from ancient beginnings to the present day.
With a special focus on Philadelphia, the collection contains research materials on the history of American theatre, early film, and popular entertainment. Resources chronicle theatre locally, with playbills dating back to 1803.
2008-2010 Delancey Street
The Rosenbach is a rare book library and museum that has been formally affiliated with the Free Library since 2013. Located near Parkway Central, it maintains world-class collections of rare books and manuscripts, as well as fine and decorative arts. Like all of the special collections at the Free Library, the Rosenbach offers tours, programs, exhibitions, and research.