We go to libraries to find books, but inside the main branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia, there are mini exhibits, making the library a museum of sorts. The hallways are lined with original paintings, statues of Ben Franklin and William Penn, and cases containing items that can’t be checked out. Located on Philly‘s Ben Franklin Parkway, across from fancy hotels, restaurants and parks, the library is an attraction that should make it into any visit to Philly. I’ve been a Philadelphian for 21 years and until this past Thursday, I didn’t know the depth of what my city’s library has to offer.
In addition to books so old that they have to be kept in special cases, chilled to a precise temperature for preservation, Philly’s Free Library has unique pieces that make it one of a kind. One of those is a collection of handwritten letters by Charles Dickens, a nineteenth century writer who has been called one of the greatest novelists of his time. In addition to Dickens’ letters are his pen case, compass and other personal items that have been preserved in the library’s rare book section.
So, to all you Philadelphians and tourists, the next time you want to spend a day getting lost in centuries past, check out The Free Library of Philadelphia or your own local library and discover what they have to offer!
By Gwendolyn Lewis