Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries
P. O. Box 22642, Philadelphia PA 19110-2642
(215) 985-1445 voice, (215) 985-1446 fax *
About | Member Profiles | Member Resources | Catalogs | Projects | What's New | Exhibitions and Programs | Shopping | Contact PACSCL | HOME

PLEASE NOTE: This is an archived site. For PACSCL's current site, visit

More About PACSCL

Marian Anderson with her mother and sisters. University of Pennsylvania Library.

The twenty-eight member libraries and archives of the Philadelphia Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL) collect, care for, and share with a world-wide audience collections that, in their depth and variety, comprise an internationally important body of unique materials for students, scholars and lifelong learners at any level.

The collections of PACSCL member libraries include a total of more than 3,000,000 rare books, 200,000 linear feet of manuscripts and archival materials, and 9,000,000 photographs, maps, architectural drawings, and works of art on paper. PACSCL member libraries hold rich collections of materials on national, regional, and local history; the natural and social sciences; world history, literature and religion; art and architecture; and business and industry.

PACSCL is unique among library consortia in this country. It was born out of the conviction that the extraordinary collections of Philadelphia area libraries deserved greater visibility and broader support. In 1985, sixteen institutions came together to create PACSCL as an informal cooperative group with a shared agenda ranging from access to public programs and development. Now, almost twenty years later, PACSCL has grown in size to its present twenty-eight libraries and evolved into a mature organization. During that period, PACSCL has compiled an impressive track record in developing projects and programs that have greatly benefited member institutions and their diverse constituencies.

With generous support from The Pew Charitable Trusts, the William Penn Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Delmas Foundation, and other foundations and corporations, PACSCL has demonstrated its commitment to the importance of rare book, manuscript, and archival collections and to their role in scholarship and in public life. Its accomplishments include:

  • an online public access catalog upgrade for several members, in addition to "one click" search capability, using the Z39.50 interface, that will allow users to search the special collections portions of all members' online catalogs at one time (in process, funded by a grant from The William Penn Foundation);
  • a consortial survey initiative to assess and provide information on approximately 35,000 linear feet of manuscripts and archival material in member collections (in process, funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation);
  • a geohistory network that will allow users to explore the Greater Philadelphia area through time and place by entering a street address or other information, based on the City of Philadelphia's landmark Geographic Information System (funded by a planning grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation)
  • the Leaves of Gold medieval manuscript exhibition, catalog, website, CD-ROM, and children's programming (2001-02 and ongoing at )
  • a Finding Aids Project including EAD training, digitization of existing finding aids, and establishment of a unified search interface (1998-ongoing);
  • the creation of a Collaborative Online Public Access Catalog for those member libraries without individual OPACs (1997-ongoing);
  • its Initiative for the 1990s I and II cataloging and access projects (1991-96);
  • the PACSCL Name Authority Project (1991-94);
  • a Museum Loan Program for auction and booksellers catalogs (1990-93);
  • its Legacies of Genius exhibition and catalogue (1988).

PACSCL's current initiatives include component parts of its overarching Greater Philadelphia Research Collections Network, an outgrowth of its 2002-2004 self-study and strategic plannign process.

PACSCL also has shared its skills and expertise with the broader profession of librarians and archivists through a series of workshops and seminars on a variety of cataloging issues ranging from the description of nineteenth-century imprints to the intellectual control of ephemera. In December of 2003, PACSCL continued that tradition by gathering together some of the country's leaders in the field of research libraries to share ideas and insights on the benefits and challenges of collaboration not only with PACSCL institutions, but also with other library and museum colleagues.

As it looks to the future, PACSCL has identified some key priorities for the next few years. One involves improving access for all users through expanded, integrated, and networked cataloging and digitization programs that will build on systematic assessment of the preservation, processing, and other access needs of members' holdings. A second priority is to capitalize on members' individual professional development activities to build cooperative programs that anticipate and serve the needs of the community that we are working to build among the staffs of member institutions.

The third priority involves outreach. PACSCL is committed to helping its members enhance their reach and value to diverse research constituencies and educators, as well as supporters. Beyond that, PACSCL is committed to contributing to the cultural and economic life of the Greater Philadelphia region. PACSCL and its members support the efforts of individuals and organizations engaged in promoting cultural and heritage tourism, both as information brokers and, in the case of many members, as important destinations in their own right.

We invite you to explore PACSCL's resources together with its vision for the future on this website.


PACSCL projects have received support from many foundations and agencies, including:


About | Member Profiles | Member Resources | Catalogs | Projects | What's New | Exhibitions and Programs
Shopping | Contact PACSCL

New! Use Google to search the special collections portions of all 32 member library websites: (in development)

Site contents copyright 1995-2003 PACSCL except as herein indicated. PACSCL is a nonprofit educational corporation with 501(c)(3) designation.