The main entrance to the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center is now open. Van Pelt Library and the Fisher Fine Arts Library are currently open to Penn Card holders, Penn affiliates, and certain visitors. See our Service Alerts for details.

Accordion List

Major constituencies served by the Fisher Fine Arts Library include undergraduate students pursuing degrees through the College of Arts & Sciences in the History of Art, Architecture, and the Department of Visual Studies' architectural tract. Fisher supports all graduate programs conferred by the Stuart Weitzman School of Design including: Master of Architecture (Professional Degree); Master of Science in Design with concentrations in Architectural Design, Environmental Building Design, and Historic Preservation; Master and Ph.D. Programs in City Planning; Master of Urban Spatial Analytics; and, the country's oldest Ph.D. Program in Architecture (est. in 1964). Masters students may pursue dual degrees across departments within the School of Design as well as with other Schools and Centers, e.g., the Master of City Planning & Master of Public Administration with the Fels Institute of Government, the Master of Architecture & Master of Science in Engineering, the Master of City Planning & Juris Doctor, the Master of City Planning & Master of Social Work, and the Master of Landscape Architecture & Master of Business Administration. Certificate programs issued through the School, and in collaboration with other Schools and Centers, offer students working toward professional degrees the opportunity to gain expertise in Ecological Architecture, Emerging Design and Research, Energy Management and Policy, Environmental Building Design, Geographical Information Systems and Spatial Analysis, Historic Preservation, Integrated Product Design, Land Preservation, Landscape Studies, Real Estate Design and Development, Time-Based and Interactive Media, Urban Design, and Urban Redevelopment.

Several centers or research units also are among Fisher's primary constituencies. The Penn Institute for Urban Research is a university-wide, interdisciplinary institute at Penn dedicated to urban research, education, and civic engagement. The Architectural Conservation Lab is dedicated to training and research in the conservation of the built environment and routinely partners with Fisher's materials library. The Ian L. McHarg Center focuses research, teaching, and advocacy on improving the relationship between cities and their landscapes, and processes of urbanization and ecosystems. The Fisher also shares a close research relationship with the School of Design's Architectural Archives



The Fisher Fine Arts Library supports research in all aspects of architectural history, architectural design, landscape architecture, and historic preservation. In addition, the collection supports the research and teaching in the social, political, ecological, and physical processes of city planning. Fisher's existing collection and current acquisitions commitments, based upon available resources, are at the research level with the goal of being exhaustive. Emphasis is placed on monitoring 1) resources that are open access or otherwise support a competitive marketplace; 2) resources from or about Philadelphia, and 3) resources that create a more diverse and distinctive collection.  

1. Chronological 

Fisher's collection focuses on all chronological periods. 

2. Formats 

Formats constituting the collections include annuals, monographs, periodicals, databases and other reference resources, multivolume-sets, scholarly series, audio-visual material, datasets, geospatial maps, and any other format that support research and teaching in Fisher’s patron base.  

3. Geographical 

Fisher's collections focus on scholarly coverage is global, with historic emphasis on North America and Western Europe (concentrating on France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Great Britain), a more recent emphasis on Latin America, and to a lesser extent on the Middle East, South Asia, East Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, Russia, Australia, and Scandinavia. Global Studies collections in Van Pelt and LIBRA supplement Fisher’s.

4. Language 

All Western European languages are collected extensively and others selectively. 

5. Publication dates 

Fisher collects current publications as well as 19th- and 20th-century materials extensively, and earlier materials selectively. 

6. Open Access 

Products that lead to open access publications and resources receive priority. Proprietary resources in which we would not normally invest receive greater consideration if they support a competitive market with freely accessible resources. 

Fisher has several foreign and domestic approval plans covering scholarly, trade and technical, museum, and gallery publications. Smaller-scale purchasing arrangements have been established with independent arts presses and distributors.  Rare or special collection materials are procured through antiquarian dealers. Title-by-title purchases through catalogs, book fairs, vendor alerts, and patron requests supplement the larger-scale acquisition practices.

The study and teaching of, and popular how-to aspects of most subjects are out of scope, e.g., home decorating or design, test preparation, career guidance manuals, garden design basics, software packages, and software manuals. Building science materials are collected selectively as are architectural engineering texts, and in consultation with faculty.