The PYM library is formally known as the Henry J. Cadbury Library
The PYM library, formally known as the Henry J. Cadbury Library, is approximately 48 years old, dating from the time it had a named librarian and paper records. By the year 1960, the library had formed from several collections of books that had been housed in various areas in Friends Center. The collections included the Frances Ferris Collection of books to help children with problems in school, and the library of Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting. In 1974, during construction of the Friends Center office building, a special place was prepared for the library at the front of the building. Over the years since then the library grew to around 24,000 items. Many of the old Quaker books were donated by monthly meetings. It was trimmed back by one third in 2004 and now holds about 18,000 items in Friends Center. Other items are stored off site.
The Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Library is now in an exciting time of transition, preparing for the Friends Center renovation process. This is an opportunity to rethink the library services and to set up the new space to support the library’s mission most effectively for many years to come. Library services are rather evenly divided between direct service to walk-in visitors and mail service to distant meetings. Plans are being made to accommodate both aspects of service and we believe the new space will offer improvements, particularly in lighting, work flow and accessible seating/study people space.
A primary mandate of Yearly Meeting for PYM staff is to focus on support of monthly meetings. To fulfill this mission, the Library offers many services to meetings, particularly to librarians and First Day School teachers. Last year, around 7500 items were circulated to members in 85 of the Monthly Meetings and to attenders in 49 meetings. Some items were borrowed for months at a time for long term FDS classes. In the middle of last year, supervision of the library was transferred to the Religious Education department. This has increased collaboration with the RE staff and increased demand for services.
The future looks full of exciting possibilities for service to meetings through new ventures, or developing and publicizing past services more widely:
- Building a larger network of library service via Interim Meeting representatives.
- Developing and expanding electronic technology services.
- Providing a special place in Friends Center where members can do research, meet one another, or gather for special events.