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.

How to Use the Press


Monday: 9 am - 5 pm

Tuesday: 9 am - 5 pm

Wednesday: 9 am - 5 pm

Thursday: 9 am - 5 pm

Friday: 9 am - 5 pm


Common Press | 215-746-3001
Fisher Fine Arts Library, Lower Level 
220 South 34th Street 
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Workshops & Events



Where Can I Find Common Press Prints? 

Kislak Center for Special Collections maintains an archive of the Press's work. Kelly Writers House has images of work produced under their Robinson Press imprint on their website.

Where can I get photopolymer plates made?

We order ours from Boxcar Press. They provide detailed information on file preparation and ordering, as well as fast turnaround.

Can I work at the Press? 

Common Press employs several student workers through the year. Search student positions in WorkDay for openings.

  • Vandercook No. 4 (1955)
  • Vandercook SP-15 (1963)
  • Hoe Washington Hand Press (ca. 1847)
  • Chandler and Price New Series 8 x 12 Platen Press
  • Golding Pearl New Improved #8 5 x 8 Platen Press
  • Kelsey Excelsior 5 x 8 Tabletop Platen Press
  • Signmaker Proof Press
  • 2 Provisional Presses (available to loan)
  • Library of wood and metal type, along with historical image blocks
  • 2 sets of P22 Blox
  • Bases for photopolymer plate & pressure prints
  • Pearl Guillotine Cutter, 14” Blade
  • Dahle Rotary Paper Cutter
  • Corner Rounder
  • Button Maker (1.25")
  • Library of paper samples

The Common Press currently offers two toolkits for checkout and use by UPenn cardholders (faculty, staff and students). You may use the toolkits for up to 3 months. Stop by the Common Press during open hours to check out a toolkit.  

You will be charged for the materials in the kits if the kits are not returned.

Book Binding Tool Kit: Awl, olfa knife, small metal ruler, small cutting mat, bone folder, binding needle, hole punching cradle, glue stick, binding thread, scissors, resource booklet.

Linoleum Block Carving Kit: Lino carving tool, carbon paper, vellum, small lino block, brayer, small tube of ink, paper, resource & instruction booklet. 

Studio users are asked to sign the following safety agreement:

Common Press Studio Use Agreement

I understand that operating Common Press machinery comes with a risk of bodily injury, therefore I agree to:

  • ask for assistance from the Studio Manager or Studio Coordinator when I am unsure about something.
  • tie back long hair and remove loose, dangling, or flowing clothing and jewelry.
  • exercise caution when moving type cases or other heavy objects and ask for assistance when needed so as to avoid injury.
  • use proper safety precautions when handling type, ink, and cleaning materials:  
    • wear gloves to protect skin from inks and cleaning materials.
    • wash hands thoroughly after handling type, ink or clean up materials
    • read the available Material Safety Sheets if more information is needed.
  • use the studio only while sober.

I understand that I am using antique equipment and type and will do so with respect. Therefore, I agree to:

  • get approval from the Studio Manager or Coordinator to use any experimental printmaking methods, outside papers, printing plates, inks or cleaning products.
  • operate with mindfulness.

I understand that, in accordance with Fisher Fine Arts Library policy, no food is allowed in the Common Press studio. Beverages in cover containers are allowed but should not be handled with hands dirty from type, inks, or clean up.

I understand that failure to work within the terms of this agreement will result in loss of studio access. 



About the Common Press

The Common Press is the letterpress studio at the University of Pennsylvania. The press is a collaboration of interests, including writing (Kelly Writers House), print culture and history (the Rare Book & Manuscript Library) and visual arts and design (the Fine Arts program in the School of Design). The facility provides an environment where students can move between digital and manual image making, collaborating with writers, printmakers, designers, scholars and others with an interest in printing. The Common Press exists to assist in teaching design and to facilitate collaborative projects across the university. It was founded on January 17, 2006, the 300th anniversary of Benjamin Franklin’s birth.