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Carnegie library

Carnegie library

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A Carnegie library is a library
Library
In a traditional sense, a library is a large collection of books, and can refer to the place in which the collection is housed. Today, the term can refer to any collection, including digital sources, resources, and services...

 built with money donated by Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie
Andrew Carnegie
Andrew Carnegie was a Scottish-American industrialist, businessman, and entrepreneur who led the enormous expansion of the American steel industry in the late 19th century...

. 2,509 Carnegie libraries were built between 1883 and 1929, including some belonging to public
Public library
A public library is a library that is accessible by the public and is generally funded from public sources and operated by civil servants. There are five fundamental characteristics shared by public libraries...

 and university library
University Library
University Library refers to academic libraries at universities, such as:*Basel University Library*Cambridge University Library*Cornell University Library*De La Salle University Library*Durham University Library*University of the East Library...

 systems. 1,689 were built in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, 660 in Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 and Ireland
Ireland
Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

, 125 in Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, and others in Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

, New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, Serbia
Serbia
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

, the Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

, and Fiji
Fiji
Fiji , officially the Republic of Fiji , is an island nation in Melanesia in the South Pacific Ocean about northeast of New Zealand's North Island...

. Few towns that requested a grant and agreed to his terms were refused. When the last grant was made in 1919, there were 3,500 libraries in the United States, nearly half of them built with construction grants paid by Carnegie.

History


The first of Carnegie's public libraries opened in his hometown, Dunfermline
Dunfermline
Dunfermline is a town and former Royal Burgh in Fife, Scotland, on high ground from the northern shore of the Firth of Forth. According to a 2008 estimate, Dunfermline has a population of 46,430, making it the second-biggest settlement in Fife. Part of the town's name comes from the Gaelic word...

, Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, in 1883. The locally quarried sandstone building displays a stylised sun with a carved motto - "Let there be light" at the entrance. His first library in the United States was built in 1889 in Braddock
Braddock, Pennsylvania
Braddock is a borough located in the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, 10 miles upstream from the mouth of the Monongahela River. The population was 2,159 at the 2010 census...

, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, home to one of the Carnegie Steel Company's mills. Initially Carnegie limited his support to a few towns in which he had an interest. From the 1890s on, his foundation funded a dramatic increase in number of libraries.
This coincided with the rise of women's club
Women's club
Women’s clubs, also known as woman's clubs, first arose in the United States during the post-Civil War period, in both the North and the South. As a result of increased leisure time due to modern household advances, middle-class women had more time to engage in intellectual pursuits...

s in the post-Civil War period, which were most responsible for organizing efforts to establish libraries, including long-term fundraising and lobbying within their communities to support operations and collections. They led the establishment of 75-80 percent of the libraries in communities across the country.

Carnegie believed in giving to the "industrious and ambitious; not those who need everything done for them, but those who, being most anxious and able to help themselves, deserve and will be benefited by help from others."
Under segregation black people were generally denied access to public libraries in the Southern United States
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

. Rather than insisting on his libraries being racially integrated, he funded separate libraries for African Americans. For example, at Houston he funded a separate Colored Carnegie Library.

Most of the library buildings were unique, constructed in a number of styles, including Beaux-Arts, Italian Renaissance
Renaissance architecture
Renaissance architecture is the architecture of the period between the early 15th and early 17th centuries in different regions of Europe, demonstrating a conscious revival and development of certain elements of ancient Greek and Roman thought and material culture. Stylistically, Renaissance...

, Baroque
Baroque architecture
Baroque architecture is a term used to describe the building style of the Baroque era, begun in late sixteenth century Italy, that took the Roman vocabulary of Renaissance architecture and used it in a new rhetorical and theatrical fashion, often to express the triumph of the Catholic Church and...

, Classical Revival, and Spanish Colonial. Scottish Baronial
Scottish baronial style
The Scottish Baronial style is part of the Gothic Revival architecture style, using stylistic elements and forms from castles, tower houses and mansions of the Gothic architecture period in Scotland, such as Craigievar Castle and Newark Castle, Port Glasgow. The revival style was popular from the...

 was one of the styles used in Carnegie's native Scotland. Each style was chosen by the community, although as the years went by James Bertram
James Bertram (Carnegie secretary)
James Bertram was the personal secretary of Andrew Carnegie, the industrialist and philanthropist, from 1897-1914. Bertram also served the Carnegie Corporation of New York from its inception in 1911 as secretary and trustee until his death in 1934...

, Carnegie's secretary, became less tolerant of designs which were not to his taste. Edward Lippincott Tilton, a friend often recommended by Bertram, designed many of the buildings. The architecture was typically simple and formal, welcoming patrons to enter through a prominent doorway, nearly always accessed via a staircase. The entry staircase symbolized a person's elevation by learning. Similarly, outside virtually every library was a lamppost or lantern, meant as a symbol of enlightenment
Enlightenment (spiritual)
Enlightenment in a secular context often means the "full comprehension of a situation", but in spiritual terms the word alludes to a spiritual revelation or deep insight into the meaning and purpose of all things, communication with or understanding of the mind of God, profound spiritual...

.

In the early 20th century, a Carnegie library was often the most imposing structure in hundreds of small American communities.

Background


Books and libraries were important to Carnegie, beginning with his childhood in Scotland. There he listened to readings and discussions of books from the Tradesman's Subscription Library, which his father helped create. Later, in the United States, while working for the local telegraph company in Allegheny
Allegheny, Pennsylvania
Allegheny City was a Pennsylvania municipality located on the north side of the junction of the Allegheny and Ohio rivers, across from downtown Pittsburgh. It was annexed by Pittsburgh in 1907...

, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, Carnegie borrowed books from the personal library of Colonel James Anderson, who opened the collection to his workers every Saturday.

In his autobiography, Carnegie credited Anderson with providing an opportunity for "working boys" (that some said should not be "entitled to books") to acquire the knowledge to improve themselves.
Carnegie's personal experience as an immigrant, who with help from others worked his way into a position of wealth, reinforced his belief in a society based on merit, where anyone who worked hard could become successful. This conviction was a major element of his philosophy of giving in general, and of his libraries as its best known expression.

"The Carnegie Formula"


Nearly all of Carnegie's libraries were built according to "The Carnegie Formula", which required matching contributions from the town that received the donation. It must:
  • demonstrate the need for a public library;
  • provide the building site;
  • annually provide ten percent of the cost of the library's construction to support its operation; and,
  • provide free service to all.


Carnegie assigned the decisions to his assistant James Bertram. He created a "Schedule of Questions." The schedule included: Name, status and population of town, Does it have a library? Where is it located and is it public or private? How many books? Is a town-owned site available?

One of the requirements was the willingness of people and government to raise taxes to support the library. Money was not given all at once but disbursed gradually as the project went on. Records were kept on a "Daily Register of Donations." The 1908 Daily register of donations, for example, has 10–20 entries each day. Every day that year, money was disbursed for libraries and church organs in the US and Britain.

The amount of money donated to most communities was based on U.S. Census figures and averaged approximately $2 per person. Many communities were eager for the chance to build public institutions. James Bertram, Carnegie's personal secretary who ran the program, was never without requests.

The impact of Carnegie's library philanthropy was maximized by his timing. His offers came at a peak of town development and library expansion in the US. By 1890, many states had begun to take an active role in organizing public libraries, and the new buildings filled a tremendous need. Interest in libraries was also heightened at a crucial time in their early development by Carnegie's high profile and his genuine belief in their importance.

Self-service stacks



The design of the Carnegie libraries has been given credit for encouraging communication with the librarian. It also created an opportunity for people to browse and discover books on their own. "The Carnegie libraries were important because they had open stacks which encouraged people to browse....People could choose for themselves what books they wanted to read," according to Walter E. Langsam, an architectural historian and teacher at the University of Cincinnati
University of Cincinnati
The University of Cincinnati is a comprehensive public research university in Cincinnati, Ohio, and a part of the University System of Ohio....

. Before Carnegie, patrons had to ask a clerk to retrieve books from closed stacks.

Continuing legacy


Carnegie established charitable trusts which have continued his philanthropic work. However, even before his death they had reduced their involvement in the provision of libraries. There has continued to be support for library projects, for example in South Africa.

In 1992, the New York Times reported that according to a survey conducted by Dr. George Bobinksi, dean of the School of Information and Library Studies at the State University at Buffalo 1,554 of the 1,681 original buildings in the United States still existed, with 911 still used as libraries. Two-hundred seventy six were unchanged, 286 had been expanded, and 175 had been remodeled. Two-hundred forty three had been demolished while others had been converted to other uses..

While hundreds of the library buildings have become museums, community centers, office buildings, residences, or are otherwise used more than half of those in the United States still serve their communities as libraries over a century after their construction, many in middle- to low-income neighborhoods. For example, Carnegie libraries still form the nucleus of the New York Public Library
New York Public Library
The New York Public Library is the largest public library in North America and is one of the United States' most significant research libraries...

 system in New York City, with 31 of the original 39 buildings still in operation. Also, the main library and eighteen branches of the Pittsburgh public library system are Carnegie libraries. The public library system there is named the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is the public library system in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Its main branch is located in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh, and it has 19 branch locations throughout the city...

.


In the late 1940s, the Carnegie Corporation of New York
Carnegie Corporation of New York
Carnegie Corporation of New York, which was established by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 "to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding," is one of the oldest, largest and most influential of American foundations...

 arranged for microfilming of the correspondence files relating to Andrew Carnegie's gifts and grants to communities for the public libraries and church organs. They then discarded the original materials. The microfilms are open for research as part of the Carnegie Corporation of New York Records collection, residing at Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

 Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Unfortunately archivists did not microfilm photographs and blueprints of the Carnegie Libraries. The number and nature of documents within the correspondence files varies widely. Such documents may include correspondence, completed applications and questionnaires, newspaper clippings, illustrations, and building dedication programs.
UK correspondence files relating to individual libraries have been preserved in Edinburgh
Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...

 (see the article List of Carnegie libraries in Europe).
Beginning in the 1930s, some libraries were meticulously measured, documented and photographed under the Historic American Building Survey (HABS) program of the National Park Service
National Park Service
The National Park Service is the U.S. federal agency that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations...

, and other documentation has been collected by local historical societies. In 1935, the centenniel of his Carnegie's birth, a copy of the portrait of him originally painted by F. Luis Mora
F. Luis Mora
F. Luis Mora, also known as Francis Luis Mora , was an Hispanic American figural painter. Mora worked in watercolor, oils and tempera. He produced drawings in pen and ink, and graphite; and etchings and monotypes...

 was given to libraries he help fund.. Many of the Carnegie libraries in the United States, whatever their current uses, have been recognized by listing on the National Register of Historic Places
National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is the United States government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects deemed worthy of preservation...

.

Lists of Carnegie libraries



External links