Andrew Carnegie’s decision to guide library construction developed from their own experience. Born in 1835, he spent his first 12 years in your coastal town of Dunfermline, Scotland. There he listened to men read aloud and discuss books borrowed through the Tradesmen’s Subscription Library that his father, a weaver, had helped create. Carnegie began his formal education at age eight, but simply had to stop after only three years. The rapid industrialization in the textile trade forced small businessmen like Carnegie’s father using business. For this reason, your family sold their belongings and immigrated to Allegheny, a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Although these new circumstances required the young Carnegie to check out work, his learning did not end. After a year at a textile factory, he was a messenger boy with the local telegraph company. Many of his fellow messengers introduced him to Col. James Anderson of Allegheny, who every Saturday opened his personal library to any young worker who wished to borrow a magazine. Carnegie later said the colonel opened the windows where the lighting of information streamed. In 1853, if the colonel’s representatives made an effort to restrict the library’s use, Carnegie wrote a letter for the editor from the Pittsburgh Dispatch defending the best coming from all working boys to take pleasure from the pleasures in the library. More valuable, he resolved that, should he ever be wealthy, he would make similar opportunities on the market to other poor workers.

In the next half-century Carnegie accumulated the fortune that may enable him to satisfy that pledge. Throughout his years to be a messenger, Carnegie had taught himself the skill of telegraphy. This skill helped him make contacts because of the Pennsylvania Railroad, where he attended just work at age 18. Throughout his 12-year railroad association he rose quickly, ultimately becoming superintendent of the Pennsylvania’s Pittsburgh division. He simultaneously invested in several other businesses, including railroad locomotives, oil, and iron and steel. In 1865, Carnegie left the railroad to handle the Keystone Bridge Company, which had been successfully replacing wooden railroad bridges with iron ones. With the 1870s he was concentrating on steel manufacturing, ultimately creating the Carnegie Steel Company. In 1901 he sold that business for $250 million.

Carnegie then retired and devoted the remainder of his life to philanthropy. Even before selling Carnegie Steel he had begun to consider how to deal with his immense fortune. In 1889 he wrote a famous essay entitled The Gospel of Wealth, in which he stated that wealthy men should live without extravagance, provide moderately regarding their dependents, and distribute the remainder of their riches to profit the welfare and happiness from the common man–using the consideration to aid just those who will help themselves. The Ideal Fields for Philanthropy, his second essay, listed seven fields that the wealthy should donate: universities, libraries, medical centers, public parks, meeting and concert halls, public baths, and churches. He later expanded this list to add in gifts that promoted scientific research, the general spread of information, and then the promotion of world peace. Most of these organizations continue to keep this day: the Carnegie Corporation in Ny, as an example, helps support Sesame Street.

By reason of his background, Carnegie was particularly considering public libraries. At some point he stated a library was the perfect gift for just a community, as it gave people the opportunity to improve themselves. His confidence was based on the outcomes of similar gifts from earlier philanthropists. In Baltimore, to illustrate, a library given by Enoch Pratt were definitely employed by 37,000 people in 12 months. Carnegie believed the relatively small number of public library patrons were more value for their community than the masses who chose not to gain benefit from the library.

Carnegie divided his donations to libraries straight into the retail and wholesale periods. During the retail period, 1886 to 1896, he gave $1,860,869 for 14 endowed buildings in six communities in the us. These buildings were actually community centers, containing recreational facilities that include swimming pools as well as libraries. Within the years after 1896, referred to as the wholesale period, Carnegie never supported urban multipurpose buildings. Instead he gave $39,172,981 to smaller communities which had limited accessibility to cultural institutions. His gifts provided 1,406 towns with buildings devoted exclusively to libraries. Over half his grants were for less than $10,000. Although almost all of the towns receiving gifts were within the Midwest, in total 46 states took advantage of Carnegie’s plan.

Andrew Carnegie stopped making gifts for library construction right after a report made to him by Dr. Alvin Johnson, an economics professor. In 1916 Dr. Johnson visited 100 of the existing Carnegie libraries and studied their social significance, physical aspects, effectiveness, and financial condition. His final report figured that to remain really effective, the libraries needed trained personnel. Buildings was provided, the good news is the time had come to staff them professionals who would stimulate active, efficient libraries for their communities. Libraries already promised continued to get built until 1923, but after 1919 all financial support was turned to library education.

When Andrew Carnegie died in 1919 at age 84, he had given nearly one-fourth of his life to causes wherein he believed. His gifts to varied charities totalled nearly $350 million, almost 90 % of his fortune. Carnegie regarded all education as a way to further improve people’s lives, and libraries provided an example of his main tools to support Americans form a brighter future. Questions for Reading 1 1. How did progress and industrialization affect Carnegie, both as he was young, and later in life? 2. How much money formal education did Carnegie have? What factors contributed to his interest in books and reading? 3. What did Carnegie believe wealthy people should do in relation to their money? Why did he suspect that? Does one agree? 4. How did supporting libraries match Carnegie’s past with his fantastic beliefs? Reading 1 was compiled from George S. Bobinski, Carnegie Libraries (Chicago: American Library Association, 1969); Andrew Carnegie, Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie, reprint (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1920 1986); Barry Sears, Over the Trail of Carnegie Libraries, Antiques and Collecting (February 1994); Gerald R. Shields, Recycling Buildings for Libraries, Public Libraries (March/April 1994).


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