A Gathering Place for Readers & Writers Since 1835.
Since 1835, The Mercantile Library has collected books and continuously sought out dynamic lecturers and experts on a wide array of subjects — politics, art, literature, science, religion, and more.
This is a library built out of necessity. At the time of our founding — before the creation of public libraries — access to books was limited to people of considerable wealth. Nearly all the books were in university libraries and big mansions. Because people were desperate to learn, membership libraries were founded in Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and all along the Eastern seaboard. And here in Cincinnati.
Our founders were merchants — smart and scrappy, but lacking formal educations. 45 young men, hungry for knowledge, rented rooms and started a library. They bought books, subscribed to newspapers & magazines from all over the world. "Banded together for self-improvement", they collected art, hosted lectures, discussed books, business, and politics.
Cincinnati's Chamber of Commerce was born here in 1839. The first telegraph machine in the city was in the Mercantile Library. Oldest consistent landline number? Ours.
The Mercantile Library is still informed by our founders' ideals.
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