The Last Private Libraries

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Not all libraries are free and open to the public, and for much of modern history, private subscription libraries with paying patrons were the norm. While most libraries in the United States are now public institutions, a few specialty subscription libraries remain. Quartz takes a look at a few of those left, like the Cincinnati Mercantile Library.


Ian MacAllen is the author of Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2022). His writing has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, Southern Review of Books, The Offing, 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, and elsewhere. He tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at IanMacAllen.com. More from this author →