Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Library Company Celebrates its Newest Exhibition: Philadelphia Gothic

On October 29 our gallery, Reading Room, and Logan room were overflowing with guests who came to catch the first viewing of “Philadelphia Gothic: Murders, Mysteries, Monsters, and Mayhem Inspire American Fiction, 1798-1854,” and to hear a talk by Christopher Looby, English Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. More than 130 members and friends enjoyed cocktails, refreshments, and special coffin-shaped cookies, topped by gothic-inspired icing.

Though Halloween has come and gone it is not too late to get acquainted with the three Philadelphia novelists who greatly influenced Edgar Allan Poe – Charles Brockden Brown, Robert Montgomery Bird, and George Lippard. The exhibition is on view through April 14, 2009 and is open to the public free of charge. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00am – 4:45pm.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Library Company Visits Temple University Libraries

On October 22 a group of Library Company members traveled north of Center City to partake in an intimate tour of some very special collections housed within Temple University Libraries. The pictures were taken in the Urban Archive department with Brenda Galloway-Wright, Associate Archivist. The department was established in 1967 to document the social, economic and physical development of the Philadelphia metropolitan area from the mid-19th century to the present with books, manuscripts, and photographs. Additional pictures show a white glove tour of the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection, led by Diane Turner, the curator of the collection.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Library Company Receives Grant for Preservation

The Library Company has received a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to upgrade our environmental monitoring equipment. The grant funds will be used to purchase new dataloggers, a light meter, and a wireless receiver to support constant monitoring of the temperature, humidity, and light levels our collections are exposed to. Installing two dataloggers on each stack floor and one in each gallery will allow us to constantly monitor the collections’ environment and make any necessary adjustments quickly and efficiently. A new light meter will measure both the visible and UV light levels, and can be used to take “snapshot” measurements as well as extended readings of light levels in selected spaces. This is especially important for preserving items on exhibit in our gallery spaces. Chief of Conservation Jennifer Rosner will coordinate the monitoring of information gathered by the new equipment and make any adjustments needed to maintain the proper environment for our collections.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Stone Lithography Demonstrations at Deer Tree Press

There is an element of magic in the creation of a lithographic print. The process is based on a simple principle familiar to any cook or observer of urban mud puddles – oil and water do not mix. However, in practice there is nothing straightforward about the process. The production of the intricately detailed and textured 19th-century lithographs in the Library Company’s holdings required considerable skill and intuition on the part of lithographic artists and printers.

In early February, Library Company staff members and volunteers visited the lithographic printing studio of Deer Tree Press in the Crane Arts Building to observe a demonstration of the process by proprietor and local printer Elizabeth Gross. Ms. Gross trained at the Tamarind Institute, a premier center for fine art lithography at the University of New Mexico, as well as at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the University of the Arts. She skillfully led the staff through the process of graining the large slabs of limestone that serve as the printing surface; drawing on the stone with a variety of greasy crayons and inks; chemically treating the surface of the stone to increase the adherence of the printing ink to the drawing while allowing the remaining parts of the wetted stone to reject the ink; and, finally, printing the images on the press.

The demonstrations were organized as part of the Library Company’s 19th-century lithography research project, “Philadelphia on Stone,” which seeks to promote the greater understanding and appreciation of early commercial lithography. More information about “Philadelphia on Stone” is available at or visit the press at

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