January 20, 2022

Free Library of Philadelphia & Rosenbach Museum and Library Working on Merger

From The Philadelphia Inquirer:

The Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation would take over the Rosenbach Museum and Library under the terms of a letter of intent approved Tuesday by their boards.

The memorandum of understanding leaves important details to be negotiated, but aims to make the Rosenbach a subsidiary of the library by June 30.

Such a deal would likely require the approval of the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, and, depending on the way it is structured, perhaps also of Orphans’ Court.

What is definite is that the Rosenbach will not alter its operation in a way the public would notice except for a change in signage, and to the extent that its collections and other materials would have a much wider audience in generous display spaces at the Free Library’s central library. Leaders of both said the merger makes great sense given that in some areas – Shakespeare, for instance – one library’s collection helps complete the other’s.


Money is ultimately driving the merger. Though the Rosenbach laid off much of its staff in June after being hit with a deficit, no immediate crisis exists, leaders say. Organized through a trust from 1950, it has no mortgage or debt, and its endowment has grown through gifts in perpetuity that underwrite specific staff jobs. But operating grants are harder to land, and by living within its means the library and museum is not realizing its potential, says board chair Arthur Spector.

“All this requires operating at a very tight, low level, and I don’t think the collection deserves that,” said Spector, who first approached the Free Library Foundation in May.

MUCH More in the Full Text Article

Take a Look at the Rosenbach Museum and Library Collection Guide

See Also: Today in the Civil War Blog (via Rosenbach)

See Also: Links to Rosenbach Online Catalogs

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.