Free Library of Philadelphia
1.  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.
2.  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.
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.  How can I borrow pictures if I can't visit the Library during the times the Print and Picture Collection is open (Monday through Friday, 9-5).
You can call the Print and Picture Collection with your request (circulating pictures only) and our staff will leave a modest amount of files next door in the Art Department for you to use after 5 p.m. on a weekday or on Saturday or Sunday. You are able to check out these pictures at the Art Reference Desk.
6.  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.
7.  Can I use materials after your hours?
If you phone first, most books in the Children's Literature Research Collection can be pulled for night or weekend use in the Central Children's Department.
8.  Who can borrow music from the Fleisher Orchestral Collection?

The Fleisher Collection lends to orchestras, universities, schools, churches, or any other organization interested in the performance of orchestral music. We do not lend to individuals; an institution must be the borrower of record.

9.  Is there a fee to borrow music from the Fleisher Collection?

There is a handling charge for any organization outside of the City of Philadelphia. The charge is based on the size of the work, and range from $25 to $250 per work. Philadelphia organizations may borrow music for free for up to eight weeks. (Please note that order change/cancellation and late fees will apply.)

UPS shipping charges are applicable and vary with the size of the work and/or order. International and express shipping options are also available. Late fees are levied for sets, scores, and/or parts returned after the due date. There is a non-negotiable, minimum $25 per part replacement fee.

10.  How long can we keep the music borrowed from the Fleisher Collection?

The standard loan period is eight weeks, with additional time for shipping added onto that. If available, the works can be reserved for a longer time period, at a prorated charge.

11.  What about copyright?

Usually the music the Fleisher Collection lends out is in the public domain. For works under copyright, we will refer you to the rental publisher or agent if there is one. For unpublished works, we need to receive permission in writing from the copyright holder to release the performance materials. (We may already have this permission on file, so do check with us first.) Call us at 215-686-5313 or email us at to ask about any particular piece; we'll work with you on tracking down the information you need to get the music into your hands.

12.  Do you have a catalog?

All of our collection--more than 22,000-titles--is online as part of the Free Library's catalog.

Search the Fleisher Collection online

  • On the main library page - - click "Catalog" in the blue "Find" panel;
  • In the "Search Our Catalog" window type "Fleisher Collection" and the composer, title, and/or keyword;
  • Search results can be sorted by author or title.

Focused catalogs
Fleisher musicologist Dr. Gary Galván ( has prepared a number of focused catalogs, including:

  • Fleisher Collection: Latin American Orchestral Works
  • Fleisher Collection: Orchestral Works by Composers of African Descent
  • Fleisher Collection: Orchestral Works by Women Composers
  • Fleisher Collection: Orchestral Works Inspired by Shakespeare

These catalogs are available free as PDF files, upon request by email at Entries in the online and focused catalogs include basic biographical data, instrumentation, and duration where available.

13.  Are you still adding works to the Fleisher Collection?

Absolutely. We're constantly seeking out new compositions for performance, and new performing editions of the standard repertoire. We're always mindful of Edwin Fleisher's desire to seek out and promote new, noteworthy, and neglected works.

14.  How do I borrow music from the Fleisher Collection?

Inquiries about availability of specific titles may be directed to us by phone at 215-686-5314 or by email at

All reservations must be sent in writing via email to or by mail to:

The Fleisher Collection
1901 Vine St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103-1116

We receive over a hundred actionable e-mails every day, and reservations are queued in the order in which they are received; It typically takes three to five business days to process and confirm an order.
To ensure prompt and accurate processing please be sure to include a detailed subject line and complete information.

All orders must be in writing and include the following information:

  • Composer(s) and title(s) of specific work(s)
  • String count (if less than for orchestral works or for concertos)
  • Concert date(s)
  • Date music is required (A specific calendar date is essential; orders marked ASAP will be returned for a specific date and delay processing)
  • Name of performing organization (please do not use abbreviations);
  • Name, title, and contact information (phone and e-mail) for person responsible for order
  • Shipping and billing address(es)
15.  Do you have sheet music for popular and Broadway songs?
The Music Department has over 250,000 sheet music titles, as well as numerous collections of songs from different eras. We also have guides to finding songs in musical anthologies and collections.
16.  Where in the library can I find copyright forms for songwriters?

Copyright forms for songwriters are available in the Music Department and in the Government Publications Department. Copyright Forms are also available online from the U.S. Copyright Office website.

Note: The U.S. Copyright Office forms must be printed on BOTH sides of a single sheet of paper to be accepted.


17.  Can adults borrow materials from the Central Children's Department?
Anyone of any age with a valid library card may borrow up to 20 items from the Central Children's Department.
18.  What types of programs are presented in the Central Children's Department?
Special programs for children include: the Summer Reading Game; Infant and Parent Lap Time series for children from 3 to 15 months old; Toddler Story Time series for children from 15 months to 3 years old; Preschool Potpourri series for children from 1 to 4 years old; LEAP after-school program for grades 1 through 12.
19.  Do you have copies of old Philadelphia newspapers?

The Newspapers and Microfilm Center does not have the actual newspapers but does have an extensive microfilm collection of over 400 Philadelphia newspapers dating back to 1720.

You may ask one of our staff members about getting a copy of the front page of any of these newspapers.

20.  Are all Rare Book Department materials listed in the online catalog?

Books and periodicals in the following collections are listed in the online database:

  • Early American children's books (before 1850) including the A.S.W. Rosenbach and Frederick Gardner Collections and additions
  • The American Sunday School Union
  • Beatrix Potter
  • Arthur Rackham
  • Kate Greenaway
  • Department reference books.

Catalogs or finding aids for most of the department's other collections, including European and oriental manuscripts, incunabula, the Carson law collection and literary and historical manuscripts are available in the department. For more details, see the Resource Guides page.

21.  What is the background of the Regional Foundation Center?
Affiliate of The Foundation Center in New York since 1974. Located on the 2nd floor of the Central Library in the Social Science & History-Department.
22.  What is the mission of the Regional Foundation Center?
Maintain an up-to-date, comprehensive research collection; Provide free and open access to all materials and resources; Encourage and promote acceptable standards for grantsmanship.
23.  What are the resources of the Regional Foundation Center?

Full-time staff members to assist patrons using the collection. Thousands of books, journals, and pamphlets; Annual reports and IRS returns (forms 990PF) from local foundations; Clipping files on important fundraising topics; Electronic databases and Internet access to Nonprofit information.

24.  What are the services of the Regional Foundation Center?

Provide nonprofit groups access to print and computerized resources. Answer hundreds of reference and referral requests monthly. Link nonprofit organizations to local technical service providers. Present free orientations on selected Tuesdays and Saturdays.

25.  What are the hours of the Regional Foundation Center?
The Regional Foundation Center is open Mondays through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. We are also open a half-day on the first Saturday of each month, from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Please call if you have questions about changes in the Saturday hours because of holidays or library closings.
26.  Can I renew my library card at the Central Library?

Yes you may renew your library card at the Central Library. Visit the Philbrick Popular Library on the first floor and ask at the Circulation Desk.

27.  What online information do you have on art?

Oxford Art Online,  AskART, Art Abstracts, Artfact Pro, Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals, Art Index Retrospective, Art Sales Database, Artists Signatures, Gordon's Art Datastore. All of the above are available from computers in the Central Library and there are links from our homepage to other art resources worldwide.

28.  What kinds of books and other resources on Franklin do you have at the Free Library?
  • More than 350 titles by or about Ben Franklin
  • Franklin's complete writings in several editions, including the 37 volumes of the monumental The Papers of Benjamin Franklin (Yale University Press)
  • Access - electronic, or in print - to scores of scholarly journals concerning American history and culture during Franklin's era, and the recently acquired Archive of Americana, digitized reproductions of contemporary printed materials from every aspect of American life in the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries
  • In the Central Library's Rare Book Department, many books from Franklin's own press - as well as a collection of Robert Lawson's drawings for Ben and Me
  • In Central's Print and Picture Collection, hundreds of portraits of Franklin and illustrations of his era
  • In Central's Children's Department, more than 25 titles about Franklin, as well as many books of non-fiction or historical fiction set during Franklin's time; and, in the Children's Literature Research Collection, non-circulating books on similar subjects dating from the mid-19th to the 21st century
  • Other items of interest from the 18th century, including maps, city directories, and local government documents