Galleries and Daily Tour
You will find a number of items on view at Parkway Central Library. Visitors are welcome to explore the galleries on their own, or join the daily guided tour. Contact the Rare Book Department to discuss options for your group or classroom. In all spaces, we encourage both photos and questions. Please, no flash photography!
Daily Guided Tour
The guided tour provides a hands-on introduction to some of the rare books and artifacts in our collection. Tour highlights include ancient cuneiform tablets, Grip (Charles Dickens' taxidermied raven), and the historic Elkins Library. The tour takes about one hour and no prior notification is necessary.
William B. Dietrich Gallery
The centerpiece of the Free Library's exhibition program is the William B. Dietrich Gallery. There are two large-scale exhibitions a year, primarily drawn from Special Collections' own vast holdings, but we also borrow items from other libraries and museums and work with contemporary artists and makers.
The Rare Book Department's hallway galleries, located on the third floor of Parkway Central Library, offer over a dozen displays from our general collections. Visitors will always be able to see a rotating selection of treasures from Beatrix Potter, Edgar Allan Poe, medieval manuscripts, ancient cuneiform, and more.
We welcome all researchers—whether academic or enthusiast—to use materials from our collections in our reading room. The reading room is available by appointment from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Space is limited, so please make your appointment at least one day in advance. Before your appointment, let us know which materials you plan to use or chat with us about the scope of your research project. While uncommon, there may be limits to accessing our most delicate objects.
What to bring to your appointment
- You are welcome to bring a laptop, camera, or notebook, but pencils only please! Feel free to photograph (without flash) anything you use.
- A cloakroom and lockers are available at the entrance where you can freely and securely store your belongings.
- No food and drink (including water) are permitted in the reading room.
- If you wish to publish images from our collection, please speak with a member of our team. We can assist with higher-quality imaging.
- For researchers interested in watermarks, restoration, etc., we have a light sheet and a UV lamp available. Please let our staff know your needs in advance.