Rare Book Department

1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

We're celebrating Big and Small, Books for All with plenty of programming, special hours, and workshops! Check below for details, dates and times...

Open today 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Sunday, 2/18 Closed
Monday, 2/19 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Tuesday, 2/20 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday, 2/21 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Thursday, 2/22 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Friday, 2/23 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Saturday, 2/24 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • * Monday had hour changes – Presidents' Day
Sunday Closed
Monday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Tuesday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Thursday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Friday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Upcoming Closures

  • Fri., Mar. 30 : Closed Good Friday
  • Sun., Apr. 1 : Closed Easter
  • Wed., Apr. 18 : Closed Professional Development Staff Meeting
  • Mon., May. 28 : Closed Memorial Day
  • Wed., Jul. 4 : Closed Independence Day
View all holiday closings


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Upcoming Events

Big and Small, Books for All: Hands-On

Now through Wed, March 21, 2018 5:30 P.M.

Join us after-hours  in the Rare Book Department as we take out books that were just too large (or too small!) to be shown in our Big and Small, Books for All exhibition. Examples include a Bible smaller than your finger nail, and a handwritten scroll from the 15th century over…

Adult Young Adult School Age Senior Family Programs Exhibitions Special Collections Big and Small, Books for All

Big and Small, Books for All

Now through Sun, March 25, 2018 9:00 A.M.

Big and Small, Books for All From October 23, 2017 to March 24, 2018 This family-oriented exhibition features extraordinary books selected for their extreme sizes and unusual shapes. Visitors of all ages can interact with special artifacts and explore ideas of the form, function, and meaning of…

Adult Young Adult School Age Toddler Senior Exhibitions Family Rare Books, Manuscripts, & Digital Collections Special Collections Big and Small, Books for All

Big and Small, Books for All is on view in the Dietrich Gallery! We're celebrating with special programs here in the Rare Book Department and also in the neighborhood libraries. Here on the 3rd floor, we'll be open extended hours for Teeny Tiny Tuesdays and Way-Too-Big Wednesdays. And eleven of the neighborhood libraries are hosting free book-making workshops for children (Miniature Albums) and for adults and teens (Wearable Books).

Rare Book Department extended hours (open until 7:30 p.m.):

  • Wednesday, November 8: Way-Too-Big Wednesday
  • Tuesday, December 5: Teeny Tiny Tuesday
  • Wednesday, January 10: Way-Too-Big Wednesday
  • Tuesday, February 6: Teeny Tiny Tuesday
  • Wednesday, March 21: Big AND Small, Hands-On

Workshops in the Neighborhood Libraries (please contact the library directly for details):

The Rare Book Department offers free access to exhibitions of historically important books, manuscripts, and works of art from 3,000 BCE to today. Among its collections are thousands of illuminated medieval manuscripts and cuttings; first editions, letters, and manuscripts of important writers, including some of the largest collections of Charles Dickens and Edgar Allan Poe; nearly 50,000 early American children's books; original artwork by Beatrix Potter and other illustrators; Mughal court paintings; and Pennsylvania German fraktur, manuscripts, and printed books. Many, but not all, of the Rare Book Department's holdings have been cataloged, but please feel free to contact us for more information about our holdings.

Group visits and educational programs are available by prior arrangement and researchers are invited to make an appointment to use collection materials. Guided tours of the department and the William McIntire Elkins Library are offered Monday through Saturday at 11:00 a.m. with no appointment necessary. For our friends on social media, highlights from our collections are regularly posted to our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts. You can reach the Rare Book Department at 215-686-5416 or by email.