NEWS: October 2008

Vol. 1, No. 9

In This Issue:

Competition drawing for the Athenaeum by John Haviland, c.1845.



September was a busy month, and October promises even more activity as we begin our First Saturday openings (October 4th, 10am to 2pm). We truly appreciate the efforts of the volunteers who are helping make this happen. Many, many members responded to the Strategic Plan survey with a call for extended hours, and now you shall have them. We will be looking to see how many members actually use our Saturday services, which will include the lending library, reference/research service, gallery and tours. You might even bring in a friend who is interested in membership and cannot visit us during the usual work week. If our Fall 2008 experiment works, we will extend the First Saturday openings into 2009. If you are interested in volunteering with us for First Saturdays or for other activities, please contact me ( We always have activities for volunteers!

Banner Image: Competition drawing for the Athenaeum by John Haviland, c.1845.

New Book Week and Coffee Day

The week of October 6-11 will be New Book Week in the Members' Reading Room. During new book week the latest books that have been purchased or donated for the collection appear on a cart for members to view and to place their names on the reserve list. These newest books will not circulate until the following week, so that all members who come in during October 6th to 11th will have a chance to review them and choose which they would like to read. Each book on the cart will have a reserve card sticking out of the top. If you are interested in reading a book on the cart, you should place your name on the reserve card (NOT on the circulation card in the pocket in the back of the book). If you would like to be notified when a book is waiting for you, kindly print your email address or telephone number on the card with your name. New Book Week traditionally occurs during the first full calendar week of the month. Although New Book Week is a long-standing tradition at the Athenaeum, having started prior to Ellen Rose's 29- year tenure as Circulation Librarian, a recent addition has been to have one day (usually the first day of the week) as a Coffee Day, when light refreshments will be served. Members are encouraged to stop by and partake and to sign up for new books. Please note that the books listed on the Athenaeum Bookshelf online are from the previous month. The freshest titles are on the new book cart - so stop by!


Athenaeum Acquires Early PSFS Building Materials

This summer the Athenaeum acquired a set of four 1932 marketing brochures for the Philadelphia Savings Fund Society Office Building, designed by George Howe and William Lescaze. Produced for PSFS rental agent Richard J. Seltzer these beautifully rendered color promotional materials have many of the same Modern design elements as the landmark building. They were directed at retail as well as office clientele. For the former, one brochure admonishes “Place your store at Philadelphia’s Buying Center, Where a Quarter-Million People Pass Each Day.” In another brochure, potential office renters were lured by the assurance that “the entire structure…is supplied with Manufactured Weather. This means, in simple terms, May weather throughout the year. Not only will there be no cold weather inside the building, but there will also be no hot weather, no damp weather, nor dry weather! It will be perfect weather---all the time!”

Coincidentally, these materials arrived shortly after John Fatula gave the Athenaeum a handsome 1940 pencil rendering by Lloyd Malkus of the PSFS tower, showing its brand-new broadcast antenna.

Above:  Rendering of PSFS Building with New Radio Tower, Lloyd Malkus, 1940.


Right: Cover of PSFS Building real estate brochure, 132 Feet on Market Street at Twelfth.



Reading Room Display Cases

When you visit the Athenaeum, take a look at the new display cases in the members' reading room, where we will feature hidden gems from our collections. This month, in honor of Halloween, we take a look at books on apparitions, palmistry, spirit photography and the black arts. All are items that you may be surprised to find in our collection. The oldest on display focuses on witches and apparitions and was published in London in 1681.





Above: Frontispiece from The Secret Book of the Black Arts, 1878. 

Save The Date:  

October 4, 10:00AM-2:00PM: First Saturday opening and Tunnel Book Workshop with Maria Pisano.

October 6: Coffee Day

October 6-10: New Book Week

October 22, 11:00AM: Socrates Cafe

October 29, 5:30PM: Design Projects gallery talk

See the Event Calendar for more upcoming events.

The Athenaeum is open 9:00AM to 5:00PM, Monday-Friday.  The building is accessible to persons with disabilities.  Group tours and research visits are by appointment only. Please visit our website for more information, or call 215-925-2688.


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