Current home of the library on the UMSL Campus
|Country||United States of America|
|Branch of||Thomas Jefferson Library|
|Size||Over 250,000 books and 400 archival collections|
|Director||John N. Hoover|
The St. Louis Mercantile Library, founded in 1846 in downtown St. Louis, Missouri, was originally established as a membership library, and is the oldest extant library west of the Mississippi River.Since 1998 the library has been housed at the University of Missouri-St. Louis as a Special Collections library within the Thomas Jefferson Library. The majority of library materials can be assigned to one of four categories: the General (Core) Collection, the John W. Barriger Railroad Library, the Herman T. Pott National Inland Waterways Library, or the Art Museum. The collections of the St. Louis Mercantile Library have been named a City Landmark by the city of St. Louis, Mo., due to the cultural significance of the library.
In December 1845 a group of civic leaders and philanthropists joined together to establish a membership library with the intent of creating a place "where young men could pass their evenings agreeably and profitably, and thus be protected from the temptations to folly that ever beset unguarded youth in large towns."The library officially opened on April 19, 1846, and became chartered by the State of Missouri that year. At the time, public libraries were not a standard institution. The St. Louis Mercantile Library, with a reading room, meeting rooms, book stacks, and the largest auditorium in the city, became a primary hub of cultural and intellectual interchange in the city in the years preceding commonplace public and academic libraries.
James E. Yeatman was the first president. Yeatman would go on to be one of the founders of the Mercantile Bank as well as Washington University in St. Louis. By 1847 it had 1,600 volumes and 283 subscribing members. In 1851 it merged with the St. Louis Lyceum. The St. Louis Symphony played its first concerts in the library. A series of lectures were held in the auditorium, with noted speakers including Mark Twain, Carl Schurz, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Oscar Wilde.
In 1854 the library moved to a new building at 510 Locust Street, on the corner of Broadway and Locust streets. The structure included the 2,000 seat Grand Hall, the largest auditorium in the city at the time. The first session of the Missouri Constitutional Convention in 1861 met in the library voting to stay in the Union at the beginning of the American Civil War. Another constitutional convention in 1865 abolished slavery.
In 1884 Robert S. Brookings began a campaign to build a new fireproof building. The older building was demolished in 1887 and a new cornerstone was laid by Henry Shaw (botanist). In 1889 the new six-story structure was dedicated on the same site. The new structure had no lecture hall, but did include an elevator. The library replaced candles in the stacks with electricity for the first time in 1901. Notable library programs included a telephone service and Book Delivery Service using a Ford Model T established in 1915. The Library received its designated status as a City Landmark in 1973.
With the opening of the free St. Louis Public Library in 1893, the Mercantile Library's mission shifted from serving as the primary modern library of the city to focus on its major historic collections of books, papers, and art works.The Art Museum has actively collected paintings, drawings, sculpture, and folk art of America since its foundation, tracing back to an early loan from noted St. Louis artist Charles Deas.
The Mercantile Library historically collected materials to reflect the industrial history of St. Louis and the surrounding region. In this spirit, a dedicated railroad collection was established in 1983, named after John W. Barriger III, an American railroad executive whose large personal library of books, corporate papers, and photographs formed the core of the railroad holdings.In 1985, the library established a formal waterways collection named after Herman T. Pott, a prominent river industry executive.
The newspaper photo morgue and clipping files of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat , established in 1854, moved to the library.
The library's historic downtown location and status as an independent institution came under internal review in 1994, when the Board of Direction began a long-range self-study to determine how to make the library's collections more accessible to modern scholars. 1996 marked the 150th Anniversary of the St. Louis Mercantile Library Association, and also became the year the Board voted to approve an affiliation with the University of Missouri-St. Louis. This several-year long process culminated in 1998, when the Mercantile Library moved to its current location in the Thomas Jefferson Library building on the campus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis and rededicated itself as its current status of a special collections library within the university.
The library still maintains its membership model, but the majority of the collections remain open to the public for research purposes through a combination of open stacks, the archival Reading Room research programand the UMSL Digital Library. Instead of allowing access to the library, membership now provides additional borrowing privileges, access to non-public events, invitations to speaker series, and private tours.
The library operates under an open-storage solution for much of its collection, meaning that a large percentage of the collections are on display throughout the library at any given time. The library also offers free physical art and history exhibits of materials from its collections as well as online exhibits.
Notable among the library's collections:
The University of Missouri System is a state university system providing centralized administration for four universities, a health care system, an extension program, and ten research and technology parks. Nearly 70,000 students are currently enrolled at its four campuses. The health care system operates several hospitals and clinics in central Missouri, while the extension program provides distance learning and other educational initiatives statewide.
The Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railway is a former Class I railroad company in the United States, with its last headquarters in Dallas. Established in 1865 under the name Union Pacific Railway, Southern Branch, it came to serve an extensive rail network in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri. In 1988, it merged with the Missouri Pacific Railroad; today, it is part of Union Pacific Railroad.
Frederick William Lehmann was a prominent American lawyer, statesman, United States Solicitor General, and rare book collector.
John Walker Barriger III was an American railroad executive; he successively led the Monon Railroad, Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad, Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad and the Boston and Maine Railroad. In 1969, he was chosen as Railroader of the Year by industry trade journal Modern Railroads.
The Thomas Jefferson Library is the main library for the University of Missouri–St. Louis, the largest public university in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area.
The State Historical Society of Missouri, a private membership and state funded organization, is a comprehensive research facility located in Columbia, Missouri specializing in the preservation and study of Missouri's cultural heritage. Established in 1898 by the Missouri Press Association and made a trustee of the state in 1901, the Society is the official historical society of the state of Missouri and is located on the campus of the University of Missouri in Downtown Columbia, Missouri. The Society publishes the quarterly Missouri Historical Review, the only scholarly academic journal produced in the state.
Central Visual and Performing Arts High School is a magnet high school in St. Louis, Missouri, part of the St. Louis Public Schools.
KWMU, is the flagship National Public Radio station in St. Louis, Missouri. Known on-air as St. Louis Public Radio, it is owned by and licensed to the University of Missouri–St. Louis. Its studios are located in Grand Center in midtown St. Louis.
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.
Marty Hendin was a baseball executive who worked in various marketing, public relations, and community relations posts for the St. Louis Cardinals of Major League Baseball. Inducted into the University of Missouri-St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame in 2003, Hendin began his career with the Cardinals in 1973.
The Red Line is the older and longer line of the MetroLink light rail service in St. Louis, Missouri, United States. It serves 28 stations in Greater St. Louis.
The University of Missouri–St. Louis (UMSL) is a public research university in St. Louis County, Missouri. Established in 1963, it is one of four universities in the University of Missouri System and its newest. UMSL's campus is located on the former grounds of the Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis County, with an address in St. Louis city. The campus stretches into the municipalities of Bellerive, Bel-Nor and Normandy. Additional facilities are located at the former site of Marillac College and at Grand Center, both in St. Louis city.
Charles Deas was an American painter noted for his oil paintings of Native Americans and fur trappers of the mid-19th century.
Daniel Robert Fitzpatrick was a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and an editorial cartoonist for the St. Louis Dispatch from 1913 to 1958.
The Wabash Railroad was a Class I railroad that operated in the mid-central United States. It served a large area, including track in the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Missouri and the province of Ontario. Its primary connections included Chicago, Illinois; Kansas City, Missouri; Detroit, Michigan; Buffalo, New York; St. Louis, Missouri; and Toledo, Ohio.
Laura X, is one of the world's leading advocates pertaining to the women's movement and a wide array of precursors and overlapping social movements from the second half of the 20th century.
Stan Masters was an American realist painter from the St. Louis suburb of Kirkwood, Missouri.
Firmin Vincent Desloge II was an American industrialist lead mining pioneer in the disseminated lead fields of the Southeast Missouri Lead District and member of the Desloge family in America.
James Erwin Yeatman was a bank founder and philanthropist in St. Louis, Missouri. He was a founder and president of the Western Sanitary Commission and Washington University.
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