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  • Voices of GFS
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  • Values

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explore our CAMPUS

What's cool about our campus is that it's spread out over seven acres in Philadelphia's historic neighborhood of Germantown. The buildings are an eclectic mix of old and new, a unique look and feel more consistent with a college campus. With three gyms, three auditoriums, a student center, numerous open, green spaces and nine classroom buildings, it's a place worthy of adoration and exploration. The Meetinghouse, at the center of it all, provides a beautiful and spiritual focal point.

1. Main Building 2. Meetinghouse 3. Sharpless 4. Hargroves 5. Wade Science Center 6. Alumni Building 7. Admissions 8. Living Graveyard 9. Dead Graveyard 10. Loeb Performing Arts Center 11. Smith Gym 12. Cary Building 13. Friends Free Library 14. Field House 15. Scattergood Gym

we have deep roots in this place

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The Pillars of A

Quaker Education

At GFS, students and teachers gather in Meeting for Worship once each week. This is a time for shared, silent contemplation. Anyone who feels moved to speak may rise and do so. It is a simple formula, and can be a remarkably powerful experience.In these days of constant connectivity, the ability and opportunity to sit in silence have special value. Meeting for Worship is a cornerstone of the GFS culture that many come to cherish throughout their lives.

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speak the truth

We strive to deal fairly, equally and honestly with everyone. We aim to do as we say, reflecting our beliefs in our actions. even when it is inconvenient or challenging, we stand by our convictions, striving to lead lives of integrity.

Shine Together

We are all blessed with remarkable gifts. We are equally qualified to seek truth and to hear the voice of God. Every person deserves equal respect. For these reasons, we work against prejudice and discrimination and for equality.

stay connected

"Alone we can do little; together we can do so much."* We know there is strength in cooperation and wisdom to be found when many perspectives come together. We believe in the power of community.*
The words of Helen Keller.

keep it simple

In every way we can, we try to minimize the distractions that can draw our attention from the important things in life. This means not becoming overwhelmed by the busyness of daily routine. It means seeking balance. It means embracing simplicity.

care for all

This planet we inhabit, the talents we've been given, the community of which we are a part- all hold remarkable value. We must be responsible, imaginative and proactive in protecting these gifts and caring for the world and people around us. We must exercise good stewardship.

promote peace

We believe each life is precious and unique. We stand against war and violence and work to eliminate their root causes, including ignorance, racism, hatred and oppression. We are committed to creating peace.

  • Truth
  • Shine
  • Connected
  • Simple
  • Care
  • Peace

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Edit in Media Manager

About the Library

Friends Free Library is the school library of Germantown Friends School, serving both the internal GFS community and our Germantown neighbors.

Our library collection consists of approximately 50,000 books, as well as newspapers and magazines, and an active collection of online research databases. Our goal is to encourage a love of reading and to assist individuals with their research needs using both print and internet resources.

Learn about our policies, membership details, and history.



  • Up to four items may be checked out on a student’s account at any time. (We usually recommend that no more than two books be checked out per week. If your child is a fast reader, they may stop back at any time during the week and exchange the books they’ve read for new ones.)
  • Books may be checked out for two weeks and renewed for one additional two-week period.
  • Students with lost or overdue books on their account will not be permitted to check out additional items until the overdue book is returned to the library. Although we don’t charge overdue fines, the replacement fee for lost or damaged children’s books is $15.00 per title. Checks may be made out to “Friends Free Library” and dropped off at the library reference desk.


Friends Free Library is an independent library. We are pleased to continue our mission to offer services to the wider Germantown community as well. Friends Free Library is not part of the Free Library of Philadelphia system. Please see a member of the library staff to register for library membership so that you may enjoy our collection and services.

While visiting our library, please note the following:

  • All patrons must sign in at the circulation/reference desk.
  • To obtain membership, adults must fill out a membership application and present a valid photo ID and proof of residence (current utility bill or similar).
  • During Germantown Friends School hours, children of high school age and younger must be accompanied by a supervising adult.
  • Valid photo ID is required for computer usage.
  • Patrons may check out up to four books with membership.
  • Loan period for library materials is two weeks.
  • Replacement and processing fees of $15.00/item will be charged for lost and/or damaged books.


GFS Students and Family Members

  • Students in grades K-12 are automatically entered into our membership database.
  • GFS family members may also register for a library account and borrow materials, please see a member of the Library staff to obtain a membership application.

Germantown Neighborhood Community

  • To obtain membership, adults (age 18 and above) must fill out a membership application and present a valid photo ID and proof of residence (current utility bill or similar).
  • Children under the age of 18 must have the permission of a parent or legal guardian to obtain membership.
  • Please see a member of the Library staff to obtain a membership application.

Our History

The historic stone structure standing at 5418 Germantown Avenue has been the home of the Friends Free Library since 1874.

One of the oldest public libraries in the country, its origin dates back almost three decades earlier during a time when the surrounding neighborhood of mill workers had no real free access to the written word. Begun by the Germantown Meeting's School Committee in 1845, the original Free Library collection of 41 titles was first housed in the School and later the women's cloakroom of the Meeting House. Included among the original books were such titles as Piety Promoted, The Journal of George Fox and Penn's Rise and Progress of the People Called Quakers.

At this time, the concept of a free and public library with books on science, travel and natural history was a new and untested one considered quite radical by some of our British peers as just "a typical piece of American 'tomfoolery and extravagance.'" In spite of critics’ predictions that by the "end of the year" there would not “be a book on the shelves", these limited volumes coupled with a gift of $45, allowed the library to expand its collection to 5,634 books by the time it moved to its current location on Germantown Avenue.

Friends Free Library 1909

Many things have changed since that day in 1874. The collection now stands at over 50,000 volumes and includes several electronic databases as well as many periodical and newspaper subscriptions.

The library has its own website which hosts online databases in history, science, technology and the arts which provide the GFS and Germantown communities with access to a wide array of historical and contemporary books, newspapers, and journals.

Although much has changed over the years, the Friends Free Library remains committed to preserving and growing this valuable resource for both the school and the community of Germantown.