The Mercantile Library holds a 10,000 year lease on the eleventh floor of the Mercantile Library Building at 414 Walnut Street, Cincinnati. The lease was issued by The Cincinnati College, from which the University of Cincinnati College of Law descended.
The library's present home is divided into a reading room and bi-level stacks. These quarters were especially designed for the library in l903 by the Thomas Emery firm, developers of the present building.
The Mercantile Library of Cincinnati is a membership library located in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. The name of the Library refers not to the type of items in its collection but to the forty-five merchants and clerks who founded it on April 18, 1835 as the Young Men's Mercantile Library Association, a group which included William Henry Harrison.
The Library's tradition of cultural programs was initiated by its founders and has featured prominent writers and thinkers since its first lecture series in the 1840s. Speakers in the early days included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Wendell Phillips, W. M. Thackeray, Edward Everett, Herman Melville, Henry Ward Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe; more recent programs have brought writers and speakers like John Updike, Tom Wolfe, and Jonathan Winters. Many events, including courses, concerts, author readings and book signings, are scheduled at noon for the convenience of members and visitors who work and shop downtown.