Access to the College Green area of campus will be restricted until further notice. PennCard holders and some Penn affiliates may enter and exit Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center through the Rosengarten Undergraduate Study Center on the ground floor, and may enter and exit the Fisher Fine Arts Library through the 34th Street entrance to Meyerson Hall. See our Service Alerts for details.


Collection Description

The University of Pennsylvania Libraries are home to the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies (SIMS), a world-leading research center for the study of the hand-written document before the age of print. SIMS promotes the study of manuscripts in a global and digital context. In the words of the institute's mission statement:

Guided by the vision of its founder, Lawrence J. Schoenberg, the mission of the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies at Penn Libraries is to bring manuscript culture, modern technology and people together to bring access to and understanding of our shared intellectual heritages locally and around the world.

SIMS engages in a large number of projects and programs at Penn and beyond, details of which can be found on the institute's website.

SIMS also publishes a twice-annual peer-reviewed journal, Manuscript Studies, which is available in print by subscription and online at the Diamond-level open access via Project Muse.

Special Collections

The pre-modern manuscript holdings of Penn Libraries consist of three major collections available for consultation at the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts: ms. codices, acquired over time as part of the general special collections holdings; the Lawrence J. Schoenberg Collection (LJS), donated to Penn Libraries in 2013; and the South Asian Manuscript Collection. These collections are fully digitized and can be browsed on the Colenda platform. Open-access metadata and full-resolution digital images can found via the OPenn repository.

Another resource available to researchers is the Lawrence J. Schoenberg collection of auction catalogs, including Christie's catalogs (finding aid here) and Sotheby's catalogs (finding aid here).


Doing Research

To consult pre-modern manuscripts or any special collections items at Penn, researchers should register for a Research Account for Special Collections. Items requested through this system can be consulted in the Kislak Center Reading Room, located on the 6th floor of the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center (Room 620). Patrons can also use their Research Account to request special collections items held in the Fisher Fine Arts Library, the Library at the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, and the Museum Library.