About the Library

Established in 1846 by civic leaders and philanthropists, the Mercantile exists today as a vibrant community and cultural asset. It is the oldest library west of the Mississippi and the grandparent of St. Louis cultural institutions.

Click to view the St. Louis Mercantile Library Staff's Love Letter to the St. Louis Community.

The task of the Mercantile Library as a research library is to make its collections, which have come to concentrate on Western Expansion and the history, development, and growth of the St. Louis region and of the American rail and river transportation experiences, available to the widest number of local and national users.

The Thomas Jefferson Library building may be closed at certain times of the year.  Please check our hours page for more information.

If you have any questions or would like to learn more, call 314-516-7240.


Library Tours 

Get more out of your visit to the Mercantile Library visit with a free, docent-led tour, every Saturday at 11:00 am and Sunday at 2:00 pm.  No reservations are necessary for our public tours.  Free docent-led group tours can also be arranged for other times.  Self-guided tours are welcome, but please contact us ahead to avoid any conflict with scheduled tours.  Please call 314-516-7248 or email for details. 

Give STL DayGive STL Day 

Help us celebrate our 170th anniversary!  On May 3rd we will participate in Give STL Day, a 24-hour online giving event organized by the St. Louis Community Foundation to rally financial support for deserving regional non-profits.  Your donation to the Mercantile will help us continue to offer educational programs and maintain the Library’s famed collections.  We hope that you will show your support by visiting givestlday.org on May 3rd.