The Phillips Library is undergoing a multi-year renovation of its facilities. During this period, the library will offer access on a limited basis to reference facilities at an off-site location in Peabody. We anticipate this being available starting in mid-2013. Please consult the "Whats New" section below and follow us on Twitter @PEMLibrary for updates and additional information.
Welcome to the Phillips Library, the research and documentation division of the Peabody Essex Museum. As one of New Englands older libraries, the library has an international reputation as a major resource for maritime history and art, New England life and culture, American decorative arts, Asian art and culture, Native American history and art, the art and culture of Oceania, natural history and genealogy.
The library provides researchers, curators, and the general public access to 400,000 printed volumes, over a mile in linear feet of manuscripts, and an extensive collection of ephemera, broadsides, pamphlets, and a substantial run of periodicals. Located in two architecturally noted structures, the John Tucker Daland House and Plummer Hall, the research facility provides wireless Internet access to all researchers.
Essex County Probate records, stored on microfilm, have been transferred from the Phillips Library to the Southern Essex County Registry of Deeds located at 45 Congress Street, Salem, MA. Access to these documents will be available for library patrons during the time the library is closed for renovations.
Please contact Kathie Gauthier or Kostas Psiakis at 978-741-0201 if you have questions regarding access to these materials.
Why are you renovating the library?
The Phillips Library is entering its third century of existence, and it is time to bring the building up to contemporary standards for collections storage and access. This is a commitment to the best possible stewardship of our unique collection, and to the historic buildings in which the collection is housed. Our goal is to ensure that books and manuscripts will be preserved in the best possible condition long into the future. We are also taking the opportunity to comprehensively inventory and re-organize objects, enhancing their accessibility and freeing up space for growth.
When will the project start? When will the library be closed?
The project has already begun. The library closed in November, 2011, to allow our staff to inventory, organize, and relocate the collection to its temporary location. We anticipate opening the library to researchers on a limited basis at the temporary location in the first half of 2013, and will announce a specific date as soon as possible
When will the work be complete?
We're unable to announce a specific date at this time.
What is the scope of the renovation? How will the library be different in the future?
This is a multi-year modernization effort that will physically and electronically improve access to the collection. When the project is complete, our library will be housed in a much better facility with greatly enhanced environmental controls and online catalog access. Upon re-opening, we anticipate increased public access to the library and greater ease and breadth of research for our library patrons. Most significantly, Philcat, the library's online catalog, will encompass entries for all books and manuscripts in the library's collection.
Will the library be completely closed while work is in progress? Will the library be open to scholars?
Once the temporary library facility is set up, researchers will be able to access the library's resources, albeit on a limited basis.
Will it be possible to call in with research questions to be answered by librarians while the library is closed?
Until the opening of the temporary library facility, the librarians will not have access to the collections and will be unable to answer research inquiries. When the temporary facilities open, the librarians will have some access to collections and will assist with questions to the extent possible. If unable to help, we will endeavor to direct you to another resource.
Will you be able to continue accepting donations?
We would be grateful to review and accept donations much as we have in the past. Please contact Barbara Kampas at 978-745-9500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who will be designing/conducting the actual renovation?
We are delighted that Schwartz/Silver Architects, a highly regarded Boston firm specializing in the renovation and expansion of libraries, museums, universities, civic buildings and historic structures, will undertake the Phillips Library project. The Boston Athenaeum, the Hyde Park Branch Library, and the Rotch Library at MIT are among Schwartz/Silver's past library projects.
Will the historic qualities of the buildings in question be preserved?
Absolutely. We appreciate the historic value and beauty of these buildings and are seeking to bring the facilities up to standard for contemporary usage while retaining, as much as possible, the architectural detail and charm of the original structures.
2-YEAR PROJECT TO TRANSFORM HISTORIC COLLECTION
CONCURRENT EXHIBITION SHOWCASES LIBRARY HIGHLIGHTS
SALEM, MA -- Beginning this fall, the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) will undergo a two-year, $20 million modernization including a much-needed facility upgrade and a program of cataloging and digitization. With 400,000 volumes and more than a linear mile of manuscripts acquired over two centuries, the Phillips Library is one of the most significant rare book libraries in the country.
"PEM's leadership in the art world is rooted in its extraordinary collection, exhibitions and programs - and importantly, in its commitment to research and scholarship," says PEM Deputy Director, Josh Basseches. "This investment in transforming our library illustrates the depth of PEM's commitment to these areas."
Structurally, the Phillips Library is housed in two noted architectural treasures - the John Tucker Daland House and Plummer Hall - both of which will be renovated and restored by the highly regarded Boston architecture firm, Schwartz/Silver Architects. Greatly improved research spaces will greet library visitors on site and an online platform will offer electronic visitors worldwide access to the Library's holdings.
"Scholars interested in working with our collection have historically had to conduct all of their research on site to have access to our unique holdings. Now they will be able to take full advantage of the library anytime they like from anywhere in the world," said Sidney Berger, the Ann C. Pingree Director of the Phillips Library.
During the course of renovation, the Phillips Library will be available on a limited basis to visitors and researchers. Adjusted hours will be posted on www.pem.org/library/information. Scholars should contact the library directly to arrange for access to collections on an appointment basis.
Unbound, Highlights from the Phillips Library at PEM -- opens November 12, 2011
Thirty exquisitely rare and storied objects from the Phillips Library's vault, many never before seen by the public. Works include: a leaf from the Gutenberg Bible, an elaborately detailed sketchbook from the Civil War, an early 19th-century pop-up book depicting Japanese teahouses, the earliest example of paper currency in the Western world, and a signed first edition of The Scarlet Letter. Equal parts aesthetically and intellectually engaging, the works on view offer a glimpse into historical documents that were acquired for their power to delight the eye and tell powerful stories.
ABOUT THE PEABODY ESSEX MUSEUM
The Peabody Essex Museum presents art and culture from New England and around the world. The museum's collection is one of the finest of its kind, showcasing an unrivaled spectrum of American art and architecture (including four National Historic Landmark buildings) and outstanding Asian, Asian Export, Native American, African, Oceanic, Maritime and Photography collections. In addition to its vast collection, the museum offers a vibrant schedule of special exhibitions and an education center. The museum campus features numerous parks, period gardens and 22 historic properties, including Yin Yu Tang, a 200-year-old house that is the only example of Chinese domestic architecture on display in the United States.
HOURS: Open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 am-5 pm. Closed Mondays (except holidays) and Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.
ADMISSION: Adults $15; seniors $13; students $11. Additional admission to Yin Yu Tang: $5. Members, youth 16 and under and residents of Salem enjoy free general admission and free admission to Yin Yu Tang.
INFO: Call 866-745-1876 or visit our website at www.pem.org.