From Ohio History Central
The Young Men's Mercantile Library Association began as an educational organization of forty-five young Cincinnati businessmen. The association began on April 18, 1835. The members created a library of approximately seven hundred books, which came to be housed at Cincinnati College in 1840. Although the college building caught fire in 1845, the library was saved. The men of the Mercantile Library Association helped the college to rebuild, and in exchange the association received a perpetual lease.
Eventually, the Cincinnati College building was sold to business interests in the city. A new building was constructed on the site, and the Mercantile Library received its own space in that building, which was finished in 1908. Today, the library is still located in the building that bears its name. It is one of the last subscription libraries in the United States, where members pay dues to use its services. The library houses more than 200,000 books.