Membership Libraries | Mechanics' Institute

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Membership Libraries

Active members of the Mechanics’ Institute have reciprocal privileges at the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library (La Jolla), Anthenaeum of Philadelphia, Center for Fiction (Brooklyn), Charleston Library Society, Folio: The Seattle Athenaeum, Institute Library (New Haven), Lanier Library of North Carolina, Mechanics' Hall (Portland, ME), The Mercantile Library of Cincinnati, New York Society Library, Portsmouth Athenaeum, Providence Anthenaeum, Redwood Library and Athenaeum, The St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri - St. Louis, and Salem Athenaeum. This includes use of their reading rooms and permission to browse the stacks.

Members may make a maximum of five visits (5 individual days) to each library per year. Specific privileges at each library vary, so members should check the institution's website for details. Members should present their Mechanics' Institute membership card when visiting, but note that the libraries will call us to verify the membership is active.

Eligible members of the institutions listed below are welcome to visit the Mechanics' Institute to use our reading rooms and access to the open stacks.


Membership Libraries

Membership libraries trace their history in America to the 18th century, when Benjamin Franklin founded the Library Company of Philadelphia. These libraries played a significant role in their communities. While most subscription libraries were replaced or taken over with the advent of free public libraries in the 19th century, several have survived and thrived.

More information about our sister institutions is available in the 2007 book America's Membership Libraries.

The Membership Libraries


Redwood Library and Athenaeum 
50 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI 02840


The Charleston Library Society
164 King Street, Charleston, SC 29401
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The Providence Athenaeum
251 Benefit Street, Providence, RI 02903
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The New York Society Library 
53 East 79th Street, New York, NY 10075 
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The Boston Athenaeum
10½ Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108
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The Salem Athenaeum
337 Essex Street, Salem, MA 01970
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The Athenaeum of Philadelphia
219 South Sixth Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106


The Portsmouth Athenaeum
9 Market Square, Portsmouth, NH 03801


Mechanics' Hall (formerly The Maine Charitable Mechanic Association)
519 Congress Street, Portland, ME 04101
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The Center for Fiction (Founded as the Mercantile Library)
15 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217
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The Institute Library of New Haven
847 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT 06510
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The Mercantile Library of Cincinnati
414 Walnut Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202
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The St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri – St. Louis
1 University Blvd., St. Louis, Missouri 63121


The Mechanics' Institute Library of San Francisco
57 Post Street, San Francisco, CA 94104
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St. Johnsbury Athenauem
1171 Main St., St. Johnsbury, VT 05819
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Lanier Library of North Carolina
72 Chestnut Street, Tryon, NC 28782


Timrod Literary & Library Association


The Athenaeum Music and Arts Library in La Jolla
1008 Wall Street, La Jolla, CA 92037


Folio: The Seattle Athenaeum
93 Pike Street #307, Seattle, WA 98101
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