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.