According to Robert C. Vitz’s “At the Center: 175 Years at Cincinnati’s Mercantile Library,” in the highly contested 1891 election, Library members narrowly chose Joseph Cox Jr., a lawyer, to be the first professional (i.e. non-mercantile) president of the Library.
The above photo of Mr. Cox is from the Library’s Presidential Portrait Collection (or, as Scripsi calls it, our Facial Hair Through the Ages exhibit*) that hangs around the spiral stairs. One of ol’ Norm’s many jobs around here is to make sure departing Library presidents have a professional portrait taken, which is then framed and hung at the top of the stairs. Sometimes newly-minted presidents emeritus will ask questions about what result we expect from the photo shoot. “What should I wear? Does it have to be a head shot? Can I smile, or should I try to look distinguished?” I answer “Well, you can always bring your fiddle…”
-Norm De Plume
*Cox served in the twilight of the Mustache Era, his unadorned upper lip presaging by eight years the Clean Shaven Era, which extends almost unbroken until this very day.