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Summary of the Collections of the St. Louis Mercantile Library

Special Collections Directory

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

Collecting Mission: 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.

Scope of Collections: The Mercantile Library possesses broad primary and secondary research collections of material related to various American studies subjects. Some subjects-particularly Western Americana, have been collected in extensive depth. The collection also contains broadly developed subjects related to the general humanities-especially history, world travel, and exploration-the social sciences, and the history of the natural sciences and the history of technology

Synopsis:The collections may be grouped into six major divisions:


Collections Highlights:

Typical Patrons of the Collection: Historians, academic scholars in humanistic disciplines; marketing and public relations firms; film producers and photographs; exhibits specialists; news media; textbook publishers; waterways industry; museum staff; attorney's development personnel; government and law enforcement agencies; railroad industry; librarians; genealogists; secondary school students; college students; educators; authors; accountants.

Needs of the Collection:

John W. Barriger III National Railroad Library
The Herman T. Pott National Inland Waterways Library


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