Independence Library

18 S. 7th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(7th Street between Market & Chestnut)
215-685-1633

Open today until 3:00 p.m.

Sunday, 11/19 Closed
Monday, 11/20 12:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Tuesday, 11/21 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Wednesday, 11/22 12:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.*
Thursday, 11/23 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Closed
Friday, 11/24 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Saturday, 11/25 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • * Wednesday has hour changes – preparation for the Thanksgiving Day holiday
  • * Thursday has hour changes – Thanksgiving Day
Sunday Closed
Monday 12:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Tuesday 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Wednesday 12:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Thursday 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Friday 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Upcoming Closures

  • Thu., Nov. 23 : Closed Thanksgiving Day
  • Thu., Dec. 21 : Opening at 2:00 PM Due to staff development.
  • Fri., Dec. 22 : Open 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM preparation for the Christmas Day holiday
  • Sat., Dec. 23 : Closed Christmas Day (Observed)
  • Sun., Dec. 24 : Closed Christmas Day (Observed)
View all holiday closings

Photo of Independence Library

Facilities

  • Bicycle rack
  • Book drop box
  • Computers for public use
  • Handicapped accessible
  • Meeting space (reservation required)
  • Photocopier (black/white)
  • Printing (black/white)
  • Public restrooms
  • Screen-reading software (JAWS)
  • Self-service checkout
  • Street parking (metered)
  • Water fountain
  • Wireless internet access (wi/fi)

Location

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Upcoming Events

Toddler Storytimes with Make and Take Crafts

Tue, Nov 28, 10:30 A.M.

Let’s share new picture books and classic stories, cheery sing-alongs, movement activities, and adorable “make and take” crafts!…

ESL Class

Wed, Nov 29, 1:30 P.M.

Free weekly ESL class for English language learners every Wednesday from 1:30 to 3:00 p.m. All are welcome! Please email instructor Nad Rosenberg…

Let’s Speak English! | For International Adults

Wed, Nov 29, 5:00 P.M.

Join us for a weekly conversation hour and build your confidence in speaking English. Topics may include: small talk, holidays, customs, and…

First Friday Genealogy

Fri, Dec 1, 12:00 P.M.

Monthly brown bag discussion group with occasional speakers meets every first Friday  from 12:00 to 2 p.m.  Open to the public and…

Good Fiction Book Group

Mon, Dec 4, 6:00 P.M.

Do you enjoy reading? We read critically acclaimed fiction old and new. All readers welcome.  All meetings are Monday evenings at 6:00 p.m.…

Good Fiction Book Group

Mon, Dec 4, 6:00 P.M.

Do you enjoy reading? We read critically acclaimed fiction old and new. All readers welcome.  All meetings are Monday evenings at 6:00 p.m.…

View all events

About

Named for its proximity to Independence National Park, this branch serves people who live in Society Hill, Old City, Queen Village, Washington Square West, and Chinatown. Independence Branch also houses the Barbara Gittings Gay/Lesbian Collection.

History

For almost thirty years, residents of the eastern part of Center City had been asking for a branch. In 1997, the East Philadelphia Coalition for a Free Library Branch was formed. The coalition's carefully planned and well-presented case enabled the library to successfully persuade City Council to fund a new branch library serving residents in Society Hill, Old City, Chinatown, Washington Square West, and Queen Village.

Space for the new branch was found in what was then the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies. Architect Ignatius Wang led the renovation of the former exhibit space into a library. Meanwhile, representatives from the communities served on a fundraising committee to raise money to build the library collection. The names of the major donors are currently listed on a Chinese moon gate at the library.

Independence Branch opened on February, 28, 2001. The library serves as a community center for Chinatown and the other nearby neighborhoods. The name "Independence" recognizes the proximity to Independence National Historic Park.

The children's area features a mural of changing seasons by Jing-Xiang Liang, and also a multicolored carpet, which is a tribute to the architect's favorite children's book, Elmer the Multicultural Elephant.

Facts about the neighborhoods served by Independence Branch:

  • Society Hill is the southern portion of the original settlement by the Free Society of Traders in 1681.
  • Old City was the city's first commercial district. The area includes Elfreth's Alley, the oldest continuous residential street in America.
  • Chinatown's first residents arrived in the mid-1840's, and the first business was established in 1850. Today's Chinatown is the cultural and commercial hub for Asian-Americans in Philadelphia.
  • Washington Square is one of the original squares laid out by William Penn. The Unknown Soldier from the Revolutionary War is buried there.
  • Originally named Southwark, Queen Village was the city's first neighborhood, taking its name from an area of London, and replacing the Swedes' community of Wicaco. The name "Queen Village" dates from the late 1960's.