The Orrery Society was established by the Vice Provost and Director of Libraries in 2008 to recognize those individuals and groups who contribute to the enhancement of the Libraries’ information resources. The Orrery Society has two major objectives:
To expand access to scholarly information through term and endowed support for acquisitions, digitization and conservation, annual gifts in support of collections, and gifts of in-kind collections;
To expand University and alumni awareness of the importance information plays in helping the University achieve its scholarly mission.
Since its inauguration in 2008, membership in the Orrery Society has increased from 90 inaugural members to over 200 current members, and over $7.5 million has been raised in support of our digital and print collections. Such philanthropic support is essential for the Libraries to continue thriving and evolving. Each year, the Penn Libraries utilizes 25%-30% of an annual operating budget of roughly $50 million to increase information holdings and enhance collections. In 2013, the Libraries spent $17 million toward acquisitions and it is expected that this cost will continue increasing.
Being among the largest and most diverse research libraries in North America, Penn's extensive and heavily-used collections span all formats, from printed books to hand-written manuscripts, maps, digital images, videos and sound recordings, e-journals and licensed databases, and serve all disciplines across the University, from the health sciences and engineering to social sciences, humanities, and business studies. The Penn Libraries relies on such collections of high-quality print materials and digital resources to meet the needs of Penn’s scholarly community, but keeping up with the information needs of a research-intensive university in the face of rapidly rising costs in both print and digital information remains one of the Libraries' greatest challenges.
Gifts to the Libraries through the Orrery Society help address the challenge of keeping up with the information needs and interests of scholars at Penn.