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. This title is available to check-out in the Mechanics’ Hall library.

Reciprocal Privileges

Active members of Mechanics’ Hall have reciprocal privileges at the membership libraries listed below. Members may make a maximum of five visits to each library per year. Specific privileges at each library vary, so members should check the institution’s website for details. Other libraries will call us to verify the membership is active. You can join or renew your membership here.

Eligible members of the institutions listed below are welcome to visit Mechanics’ Hall. Privileges at the Hall include use of our reading areas, WiFi,  and access to the open stacks. Find our main library page here.

The Membership Libraries

1731: The Library Company of Philadelphia*
1314 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107
Facebook Twitter Blog
1747: Redwood Library and Athenaeum
50 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI 02840
1748: The Charleston Library Society
164 King Street, Charleston, SC 29401
Facebook Blog Pinterest
1753: The Providence Athenaeum
251 Benefit Street, Providence, RI 02903
Facebook Tumblr
1754: The New York Society Library
53 East 79th Street, New York, NY 10075
Facebook Twitter YouTube
1807: The Boston Athenaeum
10½ Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108
1810: The Salem Athenaeum
337 Essex Street, Salem, MA 01970
Facebook Twitter
1814: The Athenaeum of Philadelphia
219 South Sixth Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
1817: The Portsmouth Athenaeum
9 Market Square, Portsmouth, NH 03801
1820: The General Society Library of New York City
20 West 44th Street, New York, NY 10036
1820: Mechanics’ Hall Library (founded by the Maine Charitable Mechanic Association)
519 Congress Street, Portland, ME 04101
1820: The Center for Fiction (Founded as the Mercantile Library)
15 Lafayette Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217
Facebook Twitter YouTube
1826: The Institute Library of New Haven
847 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT 06510
Facebook Blog
1835: The Mercantile Library of Cincinnati
414 Walnut Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Facebook Twitter Blog
1846: The St. Louis Mercantile Library Association*
8001 Natural Bridge Road, St. Louis, Missouri 63121
1855: The Mechanics’ Institute Library of San Francisco
57 Post Street, San Francisco, CA 94104
Facebook Twitter
1890: Lanier Library Association
72 Chestnut Street, Tryon, NC 28782
1899: The Athenaeum Music and Arts Library in La Jolla
1008 Wall Street, La Jolla, CA 92037
2014: Folio: The Seattle Athenaeum
1531 Western Ave, Seattle, WA 98101