On July 1, 1731, at the instigation of Benjamin Franklin, the founding shareholders drew up “Articles of Agreement” to establish a library. Fifty subscribers invested forty shillings each and promised to pay ten shillings a year thereafter to buy books and support operations. Thus, “the Mother of all North American Subscription Libraries”—as Franklin proudly referred to it in his Autobiography—was born.
Shareholding at The Library Company
For nearly 300 years, shareholding has been a civic badge of honor for Philadelphians from all eras of American history through to today. Shares have been held by signers of the Declaration and the Constitution, soldiers of the Revolution and every major engagement since, politicians, merchants, doctors, philanthropists, and the great thinkers of the American Enlightenment. Most prominent citizens, sooner or later, found their ways onto the rolls of shareholders and have helped shaped the Library Company into the premier learning community it is today.
Become a shareholder today to ensure the Library Company remains a vibrant center for public engagement, scholarly discussion, and civic literacy.
Benefits of Shareholding
All Shareholders receive the benefits of being a Friends-level member, plus:
- Consultation with Library Company staff on selection of your unique share
- Personalized share certificate
- Invitations to exhibition openings, lectures, and shareholder-exclusive events
- 20% discount on special programs, such as the Seminar Series
- Opportunities to travel to view local collections
- The Occasional Miscellany, our semi-annual newsletter
- The Library Company’s famous in-depth and illustrated Annual Report
- An invitation to the Annual Meeting and opportunity to vote for Board of Trustees appointments
- Copy of At the Instance of Benjamin Franklin: A Brief History of the Library Company
- New shareholders will receive one year of complementary Phillis Wheatley Level benefits
Unlock even more exciting benefits and provide critical support to the Library Company by becoming a shareholder at one of the following levels:
Phillis Wheatley Level ($400)
Enjoy all the benefits of being a Shareholder, plus:
- Invitation to the annual “Franklin’s Junto” acquisition fundraising event
- Opportunities to travel regionally to view collections
- One complimentary seminar registration each year
James Rush Level ($1,000)
Enjoy all the benefits of being a shareholder at the Phillis Wheatley level, plus:
- Behind-the-scenes tour of the Library Company (includes one guest) – by request
- 25% discount on digitization and photography fees
James Logan Level ($2,500)
Enjoy all the benefits of being a shareholder at the James Rush level, plus:
- Consultation with Library Company experts on items in personal collection
- Complimentary Library Company publications
Richard Allen Level ($5,000)
Enjoy all the benefits of being a shareholder at the James Logan level, plus:
- Complimentary guest to a seminar each year
Interested in learning more about how to become a Shareholder? Contact the Development Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or (215) 546-3181, x133
Have a question about shareholding? Check out some frequently asked questions below:
How do I purchase or renew my share?
There are three easy ways to purchase or renew a membership!
- Online. Click here to purchase or renew your membership online.
- Email. Email us at email@example.com.
- Phone. Call Ned Kolpan at (215) 546-3181 x136.
How long is my share membership valid?
Your membership is valid for one year from the last day of the month you join. We will send you reminders in the mail when it’s time to renew. Are you ready to renew? You can click here to renew online today.
If I do not pay my yearly share dues on time, will my share number be made available for purchase again?
Just as it was historically, if yearly share dues are not paid, the share will be considered forfeit after 12 months from the lapse date. At that time, the share will be made available for purchase. Need to renew your share? Click here.
Is my membership tax-deductible?
Your membership contribution is tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law. The welcome letter in your membership packet will detail the tax deductibility of your membership.
Can I gift someone else a Library Company membership?
Yes! A gift of membership supports our treasured library and ensures we can continue to preserve and interpret our 300 year old collection.
To give the gift of membership, follow this link , click “I’m purchasing the membership as a gift,” and proceed to fill out the purchase form. We will send then process the gifted membership and send the welcome packet to the gift recipient. The purchaser will be sent the acknowledgement letter.
If you, the purchaser, wishes to receive the welcome packet, please email firstname.lastname@example.org after purchase.
How do I schedule a consultation with a Library Company expert for an item in my personal collection?
Members at the James Logan Level and above can schedule a personal consultation with a Library Company staff member regarding an item in their personal collection. To schedule a consultation, please email Connor Feeney at email@example.com, who can coordinate your consultation.
Please note: Our staff are not legally permitted to perform appraisals or advise on an item’s value, and we cannot authenticate items. However, we can make recommendations for people who perform those services.