The Free Library is excited to undertake Building Inspiration: 21st Century Libraries, a transformational initiative and an innovative model for the future of library service, designed to respond to the rapidly changing roles of libraries in our contemporary society and made possible by many generous gifts in a unique partnership between the public and private sectors, underscored by a historic $25 million gift from the William Penn Foundation—the largest private gift ever received by the Library. For updates, renovation information, and news about this initiative, visit 21stcenturylibraries.org.
Regional Research and Operations Center
The Regional Research and Operations Center, a state-of-the-art facility with a climate controlled environment, is the new home for books, journals, and other less frequently requested material formerly housed in Parkway Central’s closed book stacks. Requests for items are placed through the library’s online catalog and delivered to Parkway Central within 48 hours. More info »
Parkway Central’s Fourth Floor recently underwent a stunning renovation, transforming it into a world-class meeting and event space with several conference rooms, an enhanced Skyline Room and Terrace, and a new Culinary Literacy Center and demonstration kitchen that teaches literacy skills through innovative—and delicious—cooking programs for Philadelphians of all ages.
Rare Book Department
The Rare Book Department has been renovated to include a new William B. Dietrich gallery for special exhibitions. In addition, previously unusable space has been re-purposed to create a climate controlled storage area for rare books, and the space that houses the Theatre Collection has been completely upgraded and refurbished.
Parkway Central Library's Philbrick Hall has reopened after extensive renovations. Made possible by generous support from the Annenberg Foundation, the renovation of Philbrick Hall opened up 2,500 square feet of previously inaccessible space to the public, including the Hall's third floor mezzanine. The renovation features new seating, shelving, and window treatments in a bright new color palette; refurbished, original terrazzo floors; a restored, intricate plaster ceiling; and energy-efficient new lighting—all designed by Moshe Safdie Associates—allowing the historic grandeur of the Beaux-Arts room to shine through. At the same time, Philbrick Hall has been fully outfitted with the latest technologies, including a surface table, plenty of new computers, and video walls that display information about upcoming programs and other Library news.
Shakespeare Park at 19th and Vine underwent major renovations in the summer of 2011 as part of the plans to enhance the Parkway Central Library. Shakespeare Park, situated between the Library and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, is now home to new landscaping, flowerbeds, walkways, and light fixtures. The renovation of Shakespeare Park was made possible with generous support from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Community and Economic Development.
Update: Shakespeare Park is currently undergoing additional renovations related to the replacement of bridges over the Vine Street Expressway, and is expected to reopen in the Spring of 2017.Music Department
The project included dramatic new lighting designed by Moshe Safdie Associates, the world-renowned architecture firm redesigning Philbrick Popular Library, which will reopen this winter. The lighting, which increases energy efficiency at Parkway Central, was inspired by the original fixtures on the second floor. The renovated department also features a new color palette, a reading area, updated listening stations, and state-of-the-art technology like touch-screen computers and scanners that transform sheet music into MP3s. Additional restorations were also made to the original ornate ceiling plaster and marble flooring.