The Mercantile Library is open to the public. Anyone can visit! We are the prettiest place in the city. Really. Feel free to ask any of our Librarians if you have a question, or would like a tour.
The 11th Story Reading Room is filled with books, cozy nooks for reading and studying, as well as gorgeous art and fixtures, some of which are original to 1904 — like the two-story stacks with glass floors; and some from our earliest days as a Library.
As our friend, the author David Giffels has said, “It’s like a steampunk fantasy of what a library should be.”
After you explore the Reading Room, take the spiral staircase to the 12th Story to see the Cincinnati collection, find the secret door, or marvel in the books from our very first catalog from 1835. At least the ones that survived the fires of 1845 and 1868.
In case you were wondering if the Mercantile Library is haunted, no one has ever reported witnessing any paranormal activity in the Library. However, in 1897 Mercantile Librarian John M. Newton died at his desk, so we’ll go with “probably.”
Hours & Directions
We've been at the same downtown Cincinnati address since 1840: 414 Walnut Street. It helps to have a 10,000 year lease.
The Mercantile Library Building burned down in 1845. It may have been the best thing that ever happened to us.
Things to Do
Conveniently located in the heart of Downtown Cincinnati. We are less than a block from Fountain Square, and walking distance to some of the cities' most sought out landmarks attractions.
We love visitors — anyone can visit. And there's no admittance fee! We're just steps away from the Cincy Connector streetcar Fountain Square stop, as well as Metro’s Government Square transit hub.
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