Philly Research.Net

Welcome to, a gateway to research resources for, by, about, and from the greater Philadelphia area. On this page:
  • Six cross-collection search tools
  • Links to other research resources
PACSCL supports this initiative to teach research, critical thinking, and presentation skills
to high school students. Follow #nhdphilly on Twitter or on Facebook
(more details on the link to the left)

Search tips and hints

Picture of Union Catalog interface

The PACSCL union catalog
One-click searching of the special collections portions of 20 member libraries, with more being added. Powered by Z39.50 -- the same search technology used by LibraryThing.
Best for: searches for rare books, manuscripts, and archival material when general library resources are not desired.
Limitations: Keyword searching not available; searches of all libraries are extremely slow. Results are not displayed until all selected libraries have been searched in sequence. 
Tip: For faster searches, select a subset of libraries. (Another tip: not all special collections materials in these libraries have been cataloged.)

 PACSCL Finding Aids site

PACSCL Online Finding Aids Database. This site provides access to finding aids for manuscript and archival collections held by its members, a group of 36 libraries and archives, whose collections offer primary resources on national, regional, and local history; the natural and social sciences; world history; literature; religion; art and architecture; business and industry; and the performing arts. Includes finding aids created by the Hidden Collections project supported by the Council on Library and Information Resources, as well as finding aids created by the Historical Society of Pennsylania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories.
Best for: Searching across collections for newly-added archival resources.
Limitations: Not all member finding aids are entered here to date.

Custom Search

Google unified search of the websites of PACSCL and its member libraries.
Best for: an overview of libraries' collection strengths and links to digital collections, online exhibitions, and more.
Limitations: Google does not search library catalogs. It also does not search all resources such as databases of digital images.

Search for an item in libraries near you: >>

WorldCat from OCLC
Union catalog of thousands of libraries worldwide. Explore the search results to identify any area libraries holding the materials you would like to use, displayed according to those closest to you.
Best for: Casting a broad net among area libraries, including public libraries.
Limitation: Results may be too general for researchers looking for rare or unique materials.

Picture of card catalog

PACSCL member library catalogs
Best for: Advanced searches of an individual library's collections.
Limitation: Each library must be searched individually.
Tips: Use the topic selector to find the most relevant catalogs. Remember that some library materials may not yet be cataloged online.
Card catalog photo courtesy The American Philosophical Society

image of survey database homepage

PACSCL's database of unprocessed or underprocessed manuscript collections
Best for: finding hidden collections that have not yet been fully processed.
Limitation: the survey is a work in progress; not all collections have been surveyed. Collections may not yet be available to researchers.

CURRENTLY OFFLINE: We apologize for the inconvenience 

Other resources of interest to researchers in the Greater Philadelphia area -- links open in a new browser window: