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.

William F. Van Wert Film Studies Collection

The William F. Van Wert Film Studies Collection is a collection of approximately 700 DVDs housed in the Van Pelt Library and 5,800 taped films that are kept in LIBRA, the Penn Libraries Research Annex. The collection, which uniquely documents the history of cinema, was donated to the University of Pennsylvania in 2004 by the family of the film scholar William F. Van Wert (1945 - 2003) for use in research and teaching.

Photograph of a film studies classroom with a large projector screen and coaches

Collection Overview


The DVDs are fully cataloged in Franklin and may be retrieved by searching "Van Wert Collection" as an author. The videos housed in LIBRA are accessible through a Microsoft Excel finding aid that lists the title, year, director, country, language and format. Individual titles/directors can be located by using Excel's "Find" function (under "Edit").

Scholars who are not affiliated with Penn should contact Charles Cobine to determine whether a particular film is in the collection.

Submitting Requests and Using Videos

Penn-affiliated cinema and media studies scholars may request videotapes from LIBRA using Franklin's "Place Request" function. The tapes will be delivered to the Ormandy Center (Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center, 4th floor), where they can be viewed in one of the designated viewing rooms. Faculty may check out tapes from the Van Wert Collection for a week. Otherwise, tapes must stay in the Ormandy Center. Charles Cobine will make arrangements for authorized scholars who are not affiliated with Penn to have videotapes retrieved from LIBRA for viewing in the Ormandy Center.