Cincinnati Mercantile Library

The Cincinnati Mercantile Library has a long and rich history…one that many don’t even know about. Did you know that the Mercantile Library is just a stones throw away from Fountain Square at 414 Walnut Street?? Not only that, but it has been at that exact address since 1845 and was founded ten years earlier by a group of young professionals. Oh and in case things are a bit too hectic for you to drop by and check it out soon…that’s alright, because the Mercantile Library has a 10,000 year lease on its current home.

The place is an absolute historic gem to check out. The book collection is fantastic, and the personal attention/expertise from the librarians is second to none. Not to mention it is extremely quiet and private for reading, studying or working (more so than a public library). Something else it has is that historic charm that most public libraries lack.

The split level floors, that house the main book collection, are separated by a glass floor. That is because the library has not had electricity for very long, and this was a way to help maximize the natural sunlight from the large windows. There are other numerous architectural throwbacks like the ironwork, woodwork/carvings, and many other non-architectural features. Like the old wood phone booth for example, or the physical card catalog (no electronic catalogs here), the furniture, the stately looking safe that sits behind the front desk and the many pieces of artwork.

All in all, this place is a MUST see for any Cincinnatian…and for very reasonable membership rates you could have all of this and more at your fingertips. Be sure to also check out the Mercantile Library’s weblog for book reviews, events and other things happening with the library.

For more pictures from the Mercantile Library and other images from this past weekend, check out my photothread on UrbanOhio that includes pics from around Downtown and Over-the-Rhine.

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By Randy A. Simes

Randy is an award-winning urban planner who founded UrbanCincy in May 2007. He grew up on Cincinnati’s west side in Covedale, and graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s nationally acclaimed School of Planning in June 2009. In addition to maintaining ownership and serving as the managing editor for UrbanCincy, Randy has worked professionally as a planning consultant throughout the United States, Korea and the Middle East. After brief stints in Atlanta and Chicago, he currently lives in the Daechi neighborhood of Seoul’s Gangnam district.