As a public institution, the Free Library of Philadelphia is committed to giving the broadest possible audience access to its collections. In 2007, the Free Library received a generous grant from the Barra Foundation to digitize the fraktur documents in our extensive Rare Book collection. In 2011 the Free Library was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities grant through the Save America’s Treasures program to conserve and digitize its small but significant collection of Pennsylvania German manuscripts. The goal of both of these projects was to dramatically increase access to these collections for scholars, local historians, and genealogists, and to give the general public greater awareness of this resource.
The Free Library of Philadelphia also aims to continue serving as a management model to other public libraries, providing guidance for expanding access to special collections through digitization. The project’s technical design incorporates industry standards and best practices for image capture, storage and metadata, as well as emerging digitization tools for the highest possible quality, sustainability and adaptability well into the future.