1. The plush wood-paneled rooms are reason enough to visit the Rare Books department at the Parkway Central Library (1901 Vine Street, Fairmount), but you’ll also unearth manuscripts, letters and ephemera from Beatrix Potter, Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain and Charles Dickens. Consider taking one of the daily tours.
2. Hop over to Philly’s mecca of the macabre, the Mütter Museum (19 South 22nd Street, Center City), where you can make an appointment to view nearly 400 medical incunabula — editions printed prior to 1501 — and letters of Civil War surgeons.
3. Half a mile away is the Rosenbach Museum (2008 Delancey Place, Rittenhouse), with more than 400,000 rare manuscripts and art objects, including a leaf of the iconic Gutenberg Bible and the original manuscript of Joyce’s Ulysses.
Published as “Check It Out: Old Books are Awesome” in the March 2018 issue of Philadelphia magazine.