Membership Libraries Group

Before there were public libraries, there were membership libraries – associations of dues paying members who pooled their resources to buy books, rent space, and pay librarians to manage the collection.  While most membership libraries disappeared with the advent of the public library movement in the 19th century, a few still exist today.  We encourage our members to visit our sister institutions:

The Redwood Library & Athenaeum
The Charleston Library Society
The Providence Athenaeum
The New York Society Library
The Boston Athenaeum
The Salem Athenaeum
The Athenaeum of Philadelphia
The Portsmouth Athenaeum
The General Society of Mechanics & Tradesmen
The Maine Charitable Mechanic Association
The Mercantile Library Center for Fiction
The St. Louis Mercantile Library Association
The Mechanics Institute Library (New Haven)
The Mechanics Institute Library (San Francisco)
The St. Johnsbury Athenaeum
The Lanier Library Association
The Athenaeum Music & Arts Library

For more information, see America’s Membership Libraries, edited by Richard Wendorf and published by Oak Knoll Press. Copies are available in our online store, and members may borrow our circulating copy.