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.
BORROWING POLICIES FOR GFS STUDENTS
- 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.
GERMANTOWN NEIGHBORHOOD COMMUNITY
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.
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.
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.