In 1731, at the age of 25, Benjamin Franklin and fifty of his friends founded the Library Company of Philadelphia so that people of moderate means could better themselves through reading. Today, 275 years later, the Library Company is the nation’s oldest continuously operating library and is home to more than 500,000 volumes documenting American history and culture from the 17th through 19th centuries. The institution continues to operate as a functioning library for the general public and has relied on the support of its shareholding members since its founding and continues to do so today.
“The Library Company of Philadelphia is a rare institution in as much as its entire collection – including our holdings of Medieval illuminated manuscripts – is available to the public to view, touch, and explore,” said John C. Van Horne, executive director. “It is only through the continued support of members that we are able to offer the public this level of access to the collection, and plan to continue to do so for another 275 years.”
What They Think: 275 Years Ago Our Founder Lays The Groundwork For Phawker