* The Library Company was the nation's first successful lending library. Ben Franklin persuaded his friends to combine their book collections to make a larger one.

* The Library Company owns a guide to 1880 New York brothels, but it's not nearly as descriptive as the 1849 Philly guide, said Rachel D'Agostino, curator of printed books.

* William H. Helfand, a collector and scholar of medical and pharmaceutical prints and a Library Company trustee, gifted the Library Company with more than 400 street guides in 2011. These late 19th-, early 20th-century guides were only for men.

* While the Library Company is open to the public, it prefers that visitors have a specific research project or other reason to visit. Novelists, historians and even those just curious about family history can access the collections.

* The Library Company is located at 1314 Locust St. The reading room and gallery are open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. The print room is available by appointment only. Call 215-546-3181 or visit librarycompany.org.

- Jenelle Janci