The front facade of The Library Company of Philadelphia at 1314 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA.


A photo of the Library Company of Philadelphia first floor Reading Room filled with researchers.


Group of well-dressed women posed before a large gate.

For Scholars

A researcher using the Library Company of Philadelphia collections in the first floor Reading Room.

For Educators

The 2013 Summer Seminar for School Teachers participants with Richard S. Newman.

Current Exhibition

Stylish Books: Designing Philadelphia Furniture

New Podcast Launched March 1, 2019!

Talking in the Library - Square Logo

Upcoming Events

Celebrating Silver: A Conversation with Bea Garvan
Apr 24 @ 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Celebrating Silver: A Conversation with Bea Garvan @ The Library Company of Philadelphia | Philadelphia | PA | US

A Conversation with Bea Garvan 

With an Overview of American Silver at the Philadelphia Museum of Art by David Barquist

Join Library Company Trustee Emerita, Beatrice B. Garvan, the Curator Emerita of American Decorative Arts and David L. Barquist, the H. Richard Dietrich, Jr., Curator of American Decorative Arts both of the Philadelphia Museum of Art as we hear about their new publication and research exploring the history of American Silver. Beginning with Cesar Ghiselin in 1681, Philadelphia has a long and storied history of silversmithing that includes notable artists such as Joseph Richardson Sr. and Jr., Philip Syng Jr., and Olaf Skoogfors. Celebrating this legacy and showcasing the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s extraordinary and comprehensive collection of American silver, join the Library Company for this exciting Book Launch! Reception and Book signing to follow.  

This program is co-sponsored by the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Center for American Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art. 

Lecture by T.J Stiles: The Custer Conundrum
Apr 30 @ 5:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Lecture by T.J Stiles: The Custer Conundrum @ Science History Institute | Philadelphia | PA | US

6th Annual Lecture in Honor of John C. Van Horne

Lecture by T.J. Stiles

The Custer Conundrum: Exploring Leadership in the Contradictory Life of George Armstrong Custer

Tuesday, April 30

5:30pm Reception for Members, Shareholders, and Donors

6:30pm Lecture by T.J. Stiles 

8:00pm Dinner with the Author* (limited tickets available)

About the Lecture:

Join us as Stiles paints a portrait of Custer both deeply personal and sweeping in scope, proving how much of Custer’s legacy has been ignored. He demolishes Custer’s historical caricature, revealing a capable yet insecure man, intelligent yet bigoted, passionate yet self-destructive. Stiles casts a new light on one of the best-known figures of American history, a subject of seemingly endless fascination.

About the Author:

T.J. Stiles is the author of Custer’s Trials: A Life on the Frontier of a New America, winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for History, the Spur Award for Best Western Biography, and the William H. Seward Award for Excellence in Civil War Biography. He also wrote The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt, winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Biography and the 2009 National Book Award for Nonfiction, and Jesse James: Last Rebel of the Civil War, winner of the 2003 Ambassador Book Award. He is currently working on a biography of Theodore Roosevelt.

If you are a Library Company Shareholder, Member, or Donor and intend on attending the reception and lecture, please RSVP for both.

*To pay by check for tickets to the Dinner with the Author, please contact Colleen Gill at or 215-546-3181.

If you require any accessibility accommodations, please contact the Development Office at 215-546-3181, ext 136.

To Catch the Eye: A Roundtable Discussion
May 16 @ 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
To Catch the Eye: A Roundtable Discussion @ The Library Company of Philadelphia | Philadelphia | PA | US

To Catch the Eye:
A Roundtable Discussion about the History and Digital Relevancy of Moving Pictures before the 20th Century

Thursday, May 16

5:30pm: Reception

6:00pm: Roundtable Discussion

Hosted by the Visual Culture Program

To Catch the Eye will showcase the historical value of the study of moving images encountered over a century before cinema, video, and the internet. Rooted in emerging scholarship, the roundtable will challenge the notion that the visual bombardment from and comprehension of mass media is a modern phenomenon. Three visual culture scholars, Brooke Belisle (Stony Brook University), Kathryn Desplanque (UNC-Chapel Hill), and Juliet Sperling (Colby College) will discuss and debate the history and continual relevance and relatability of enigmatic, fantastical, and vernacular motion imagery.

About the Panelists

Moderator: Erika Piola, Director of the Visual Culture Program

Brooke Belisle, Assistant Professor of Art History, Stony Brook University

Brooke Belisle works comparatively across the history and theory of photography, cinema, and digital media. Her current book project, The Bigger Picture, relates contemporary strategies of experimental media art and digital visual culture with 19th-century formats that also sought to expand the frame of representation. Her work has been published in journals that include Cinema Journal, Photography and Culture, and Early Popular Visual Culture as well as in edited collections such as MIT’s Debugging Game Studies.

Kathryn Desplanque, Post-Doctoral Fellow at UNC Chapel Hill

Kathryn Desplanque specializes in 18th- and 19th-century French visual culture, and is completing a book project on satirical images of artistic life in Paris from 1750 to 1850. Her research in this field has been published in Eighteenth-Century Studies, Canadian Art Review and the edited volumes The Power of Satire and The Mediatization of the Artist. A digital humanist, she specializes in image databases for personal research purposes and is a member of the Research Advisory Board for the software company QSR International. Her second book project will examine the popularity of the scrap sheet and modular printed imagery in 19th-century France, Britain, and North America

Juliet Sperling, Faculty Fellow in American Art, Colby College

Juliet Sperling researches and writes about American art and visual culture from the 18th to the 20th century, with particular emphasis on the history of moving images. Her current book project explores how engineered paper— books and prints with kinetic features including layered anatomical illustrations, mechanical political ephemera, and hidden-paneled religious books —revolutionized American encounters with a swiftly changing media landscape. Her research has been supported by institutions including the Luce/ACLS Foundation, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the McNeil Center for Early American Studies.


 Erika Piola, Director of the Visual Culture Program

Erika Piola has worked in the Print and Photograph Department at the Library Company of Philadelphia since 1997. She is Director of the Visual Culture Program and has served as a project director and curator for a number of Library Company initiatives, including Common Touch, Philadelphia on Stone, 18th-and 19th-Century Ephemera, and African Americana Graphics. She is editor and contributor to Philadelphia on Stone: Commercial Lithography in Philadelphia, 1828-1878 (Penn State University Press, 2012). She has also presented and published work on American visual culture, 19th-century ephemera, the antebellum Philadelphia print market, and the Library’s African American history and photography collections

This program is funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art 

Learn more about the Visual Culture Program here.

Exhibition Opening: From Negro Pasts
May 24 @ 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Exhibition Opening: From Negro Pasts @ The Library Company of Philadelphia | Philadelphia | PA | US

Exhibition Opening

From Negro Pasts to Afro-Futures: Black Creative Re-Imaginings

The emergence of Afro-futurism as a relatively new construct in Africana Studies and Black History allows the Library Company of Philadelphia to pay homage to black past and show how black historical artists envisioned a glorious black future. By displaying fragments of early Black Americans’ past from their drawings, love letters, poems, songs, speeches, and protests, this exhibition will help visitors grapple with the place of black creative genius in the quest for a people’s liberation.

This exhibition is supported by the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation and The National Endowment for the Humanities. 

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