How to Search for Collections

    The Library Company of Philadelphia has a wealth of information about its collections available online, including digitized images and curated content.
  • Become acquainted with our Subject Guides. These guides focus on the strengths of our collections. The list is not exhaustive, but instead helps broadly frame our areas of expertise and provides links to collections of note.
  • Perform a search across our library catalog and digital collections.
  • Narrow your search by type; library catalog, digital collections, finding aids, and exhibitions.
  • Take advantage of advanced search features.
  • Check whether texts are available digitally before requesting copies of originals. Links to resources are provided in our catalog records when available.
  • Contact our staff with reference questions. Our reference librarians have an invaluable knowledge of the Library Company’s collections.

How to Search the Library Catalog (WolfPAC)

WolfPAC is the catalog of the Library Company of Philadelphia, and the gateway to the catalogs of several other area libraries. It is named in honor of Edwin Wolf 2nd, 1911-1991. Mr. Wolf was Librarian at the Library Company from 1953 to 1984; under his direction, the Library Company, founded in 1731 as the first subscription library in America, became an independent research library serving the scholarly community worldwide.

The Library Company’s Book Collection consists of nearly one million books, periodicals, broadsides, and other printed items.  The Print Department Collection includes approximately 100,000 items including prints, photographs, drawings, watercolors, architectural plans, maps, and ephemera.

In WolfPAC you will find:

  • Virtually all of the rare book collection (excluding newspapers and periodicals)
  • Most of the reference and secondary literature collection.
  • Approximately 45% of the graphic materials in the Print & Photograph Department.

On an ongoing basis, the Library Company adds records for the remainder of the graphic materials, and for new acquisitions to both the rare and the secondary literature collections.

Books and Broadsides

The Library Company holds significant collections of books and broadsides related to African American history, women’s historyphilanthropyeducation, economic history, and popular medicine, science, and technology. Cataloging records for materials in these collections have extensive subject analysis.


Along with the subject areas already noted above, the Print & Photograph Department specializes in works by commercial Philadelphia photographers and printmakers, and images that document the city of Philadelphia through the mid-20th century. The graphic collections contain approximately 75,000 items including prints, photographs, maps, political cartoons, and original drawings and watercolors. WolfPAC currently contains over 15,000 descriptive catalog records representing approximately 50,000 items or roughly 60% of our graphic holdings. Additional information on research of the graphic collections is available on the Print Department section of the website. For further information, please contact curator Sarah Weatherwax by telephone at 215-546-3181, or by email at

Newspapers and Periodicals

The Library Company’s thousands of newspaper and periodical titles are partially represented in WolfPAC.  For more information on particular titles contact reference librarian Connie King at 215-546-3181, or by e-mail at


The bulk of the Library Company’s 550 linear feet of manuscripts are on deposit at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Online finding aids for many of the collections are part of an ongoing project to provide descriptions of manuscript collections throughout the Philadelphia region.

The manuscripts of John A. McAllister are described in twenty-nine online finding aids, which are also searchable in the Library Company’s digital asset management system ImPAC.

Additionally, a card catalog located at the Historical Society (and various printed finding aids) provide further information and access to the Library Company’s manuscript collections. For more information, contact the Historical Society by phone at 215-732-6200, or by mail at 1300 Locust St., Philadelphia, PA 19107

Artifacts and Works of Art

The Library Company’s Art and Artifacts Collection is accessible through our digital collections repository. Highlights from the collection can be viewed through an online exhibition. For more information, contact Linda August at 215-546-3181, or by email at

Advanced Search Tips for WolfPAC

The online catalog can be reached by following this URL: Log in as GUEST, or register and log in with your personal account ID and password. If you register and log in, records can be stored on your E-Shelf, a bibliographic shopping cart. Logging in also allows you to set preferred result list displays.

After logging in, you will come to the new search screen which looks like this:

Screenshot of the home page of WolfPAC, the Library Catalog.

Basic Search

The default search type is BASIC. If you click the down arrow on the Field to Search box, you will see a list of indexes to help you conduct more precise searches. All Fields is the most inclusive index, allowing for global keyword searching. If you get a result that is too large, you can narrow your search using one of the other indexes listed on the drop-down menu. Author, Title, Notes, and Subject are probably already familiar to you, but we have added special indexes to help you conduct more specific searches of our collections.

Library Company Indexes
  • Form/Genre index can be used to find books by type, e.g. gift books or broadsides. It can also be used to find books with significant characteristics such as type of binding or illustration, provenance evidence, and publication features such as subscription lists.
  • Place of Publication can be used to find books and other printed works published in a particular location. Search by names of cities or state abbreviations (not postal codes).
  • Publisher/Printer/Bookseller can be used to find books printed or published by a particular person or company. Booksellers are also included if their names are printed on the title page. This index is a subset of the Associated Names index.
  • Year can be used to find books by date of publication. For multi-year items, use the earliest date.
  • Provenance can be used to find books and other printed works that once belonged to a particular person or organization. This index is a subset of the Associated Names index.
  • Associated Names is an index that allows you to search by the names of people involved in the creation or life of a book or graphic. Examples include book illustrators, binders, architects, sculptors, and annotators. These individuals’ names may not be added to every record, but only to notable cases. The Printer/Publisher/Bookseller and Provenance indexes are also included here.

URL can be used for records that include a link to a digital surrogate. You can enter a term that is part of the URL or descriptive words naming the link.

  • Language Code can be used to find texts in a particular language. These language codes are standard throughout libraries in the U.S., and can be found here.
Limit Search

Searches can be limited by language, publication date, media format, and collection (actually shelf location). These limits can be used with specific indexes and collections, or with All Fields and All Collections.

Collection Search

Another way to limit a search result is to narrow your search to a portion of the catalog. Using the drop-down menu next to Collection to Search, you can limit your search to Books and other printed texts, our Print Department’s graphic collections, the small collection of manuscripts not on deposit with the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and electronic texts such as Digital Evans.

Boolean Operators (And, Or, Not)

The best explanation of the use of Boolean operators in WolfPAC 2.0 is provided in the catalog’s Help section. To go to WolfPAC 2.0 click here, log in, then choose Help.

Displaying Results

After you enter your search term or terms and click Go, you will get a display of records that match your search criteria. To view a single record, click on the record number in the left column of the display. To view several records and eliminate unwanted records, check the box in the second column for each record you wish to view. Then click View Selected. Note that this feature works best with Internet Explorer. You can email records to yourself, save records on your computer, or, if you register and log in, you can store records on your E-Shelf. You can also modify your search by clicking on Refine. To start a new search, click on Search. To change from a keyword search to an alphabetical search click on Browse.

To return to the Library Company’s website, you can click on the Library Company’s seal at any time.

Screenshot of the search results view on WolfPAC, our library catalog.

Previous Searches

Searches are saved for the duration of the current session and can be used to generate new searches or manipulated using Boolean operators. Click on Previous Searches to see a list of your searches. You can View a result set again and choose to Refine your search. You can check multiple search sets and combine them using Boolean operators by clicking on Cross.

How to Search Digital Collections

Our digital collections catalog contains over 75 digital collections, including over 36,000 images, and continues to increase. It features digital images from our core 19th- and early 20th-century photographic collections, including John Moran, James McClees, Robert Newell and Frederick De B. Richards; prints, photographs, and ephemera from and finding aids about the John A. McAllister Collection; over 1300 lithographs and related prints from the Philadelphia on Stone project; and over 200 portraits of American women. In addition, ImPAC includes digital images of our art and artifacts collections, selections from our 18th- and 19th-century ephemera collections, 19th-century cloth book bindings and book cloth grains and on-line exhibitions of featured collections, including the early 1920s photographs of amateur Philadelphia photographers G. Mark Wilson and John Frank Keith documenting local neighborhoods and their residents. Recent additions from the Print Department include the entire African Americana collection (excluding maps) and materials pertaining to World War One.

Users may search or browse the digital collections or search for specific images by creator, title, subject, keyword(s), or date. Descriptive records may contain one to several corresponding images. Please feel free to send questions or comments to Ann McShane, Digital Collections Manager at

The Library Company gratefully acknowledges the support of the Fidelity Foundation, which provided funding for the purchase and implementation of Islandora, and the expert technical advice and assistance provided by Walt Rice of R & R Computer Solutions.

Finding Aids and Other Collections

The bulk of the Library Company’s 550 linear feet of manuscripts are on deposit at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Finding aids are available online in the Library Company of Philadelphia’s digital collections, as well as through the Philadelphia Area Archives Research Portal (PAARP). For more information, contact the Historical Society by phone at 215-732-6200, or by mail at 1300 Locust St., Philadelphia, PA 19107.

The Library Company’s over 300 objects are described in a local database available onsite. Digital images of some of the Library’s most significant paintings and artifacts are available in the Art & Artifacts Collection. A brochure entitled “Artwork on Display” is also available. For more information, contact Linda August at 215-546-3181, or by email at