Free Library of Philadelphia
1.  What does the Print and Picture Collection at the Free Library have besides a large circulating collection of pictures?
The Print and Picture Collection has a large Philadelphia history collection of photographs and prints. We also have a good-sized fine art print and photograph collection that emphasizes local artists. There is a portrait collection of over 200,000 etchings, engravings, lithographs and photographs. In addition, we have a large collection of picture postcards, greeting cards and tradecards. There are several additional smaller special collections as well.
2.  What kinds of pictures can I borrow from the Print and Picture loan collection and for how long?
You can borrow up to 100 pictures from our Print and Picture loan collection on your library card for 3 weeks with one phone renewal. The loan collection is arranged topically and consists of a number of different types of material including: news photos, clippings from books and magazines, and mounted images. You may not borrow material from our special reference collections of fine art prints, fine art photographs or local history, but you may look at any of this material Monday through Friday, 9-5 pm.
3.  Does the Print and Picture Collection have any photographs of my house or my ancestors in Philadelphia?
Unless your house has some historical significance or is next to a building that does, the Print and Picture Collection is unlikely to have a photograph of it. While we have a large portrait collection, most of the prints are of fairly famous or noteworthy people. The Library can direct your research to other resources.
4.  Do you accept donations of old photographs and prints?
Yes, the Print and Picture Collection accepts donations if they are photographs or prints depicting events or buildings, especially in Philadelphia. We have a large collection of old photographs and historical prints documenting the history of Philadelphia and are always looking for additional material.
5.  Can I return borrowed pictures at any branch of The Free Library?
No. Material borrowed from the Print and Picture Collection must be returned either to the Collection or to the Art Department in the Central Library. Material can be returned through the mail as well if properly packaged.