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Full Guide to the Free Library of Philadelphia

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Are you unsure what services the Philadelphia library provides you? I bet you will be surprised at how much you can get for free there, even beyond books. This quick guide to the Free Library of Philadelphia outlines some of the most useful resources, even beyond books!

The Philadelphia library has been a very useful place for me. When I first moved to Philadelphia, I was looking for a job, so I had a lot of time on my hands, but not a lot of money. I checked out job-related books to perfect my cover letter and resume, and I also caught up on years worth of books and movies, without the guilt of spending money I didn’t have. I spent A LOT of time there.

And, a few years ago, when I decided to try a vegan diet, I checked out every vegan cookbook I could find and copied recipes that sounded interesting to me, which I still have and use to date. Again, I was able to transform my life without spending a dime.

Today, I mostly use the Free Library of Philadelphia to check out ebooks and audiobooks, saving me hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars each year and saving me the time of picking up books from the library. (Although I will say, they tend to have some really popular books in stock in person if you go in and look for them.)

The last time I was at the library, I noticed they were offering free headshots in their business center that day. What an amazing resource!

And they host several big-name authors for book discussions, including Tommy Orange, author of There There, the One Book, One Philadelphia selection of the year.

FAQ About the Free Library of Philadelphia

Branches / Locations & Hours of Operation at the Free Library of Philadelphia

The main branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia is the Parkway Central Library, located at 1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103 (between 19th and 20th Streets on the Parkway). Click here for the hours of operation of the Parkway Central Library.

You can find the locations and hours of operation of the other fifty-four (yes, 54) branches of the Free Library of Philadelphia here.

Many of the facilities have resources like computers, photocopiers, wireless access, meeting spaces, scanners, and workspaces available for use.

Who Can Apply for a Library Card at the Free Library of Philadelphia?

A Free Library card is available for free to any person who lives, works, pays taxes, or goes to school in the City of Philadelphia. Additionally, any person who lives in the state of Pennsylvania can get a Free Library card at no cost. Apply here.

Events at the Free Library of Philadelphia

A guide to the Free Library of Philadelphia wouldn’t be complete without mentioning events. One quick look at the Free Library’s calendar reveals this array of free events: yoga, English class, drawing class, storytime for children, nutrition workshop, job search class, author events, computer class, LEGO club, open mic night, art club, guitar lessons, cooking classes and more. I mean, WOW!

One word of caution is that a few events have a charge and/or require tickets; however, most do not.

The Free Library also has multiple event spaces that may be used for business meetings, weddings, networking receptions, and more events.

Other Benefits at the Free Library of Philadelphia


Overdrive is a web and app-based program through which you can borrow ebooks and audiobooks. This has been such a time and money saver for me! The only downside is that there are waiting lists for newer and more popular books. But, the service is easy and effective overall, and you can even have ebooks delivered straight to your Kindle.


Hoopla is also a web and app-based program through which you can borrow up to four digital movies/tv shows, music, eBooks, audiobooks and comic books per month with your library card. This has also been a great time and money saver for me. While the selection is more limited, there are tons of great options, and the best part is that there are no waiting lists to borrow materials — borrowing occurs with just one click!

Experience Passes

The Free Library of Philadelphia recently started offering Experience Passes, in which Philadelphia residents can use their library card to check out FREE digital passes to some of the most popular cultural institutions and other attractions in the Philadelphia area

Homebound Services

Homebound Services offers delivery of library materials for free to city residents who cannot go to the Free Library location due to unique circumstances.

More Programs

Click here for more programs offered by the Free Library of Philadelphia, including the Business Resource and Innovation Center.

(I especially love these business resources.)

Photographs of the Free Library of Philadelphia – Parkway Central Library

I hope you enjoyed this guide to the Free Library of Philadelphia. It has so much to offer beyond books.

It’s also a great stop to check off your literary bucket list if you are in town.

And if you are traveling to Philadelphia or live in Philadelphia, you may also be interested in the best fiction books set in Philadelphia.

Lastly, if you aren’t eligible for a card, you can check your own library to see what resources you can get for free. You can also check out my post about how to get books for free for more ideas.

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