Andrew Carnegie’s decision to guide library construction developed outside of his own experience. Born in 1835, he spent his first 12 years on the coastal town of Dunfermline, Scotland. There he listened to men read aloud and discuss books borrowed within 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 on the textile trade forced small businessmen like Carnegie’s father out of business. As a result, the family sold their belongings and immigrated to Allegheny, a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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

Although these new circumstances required the young Carnegie to visit work, his learning failed to end. Following a year from a textile factory, he became a messenger boy to your local telegraph company. A handful 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 manuscript. Carnegie later said the colonel opened the windows by which the light of information streamed. In 1853, once the colonel’s representatives made an effort to restrict the library’s use, Carnegie wrote a letter with the editor on the Pittsburgh Dispatch defending the ideal of the working boys to enjoy the pleasures for the library. More vital, he resolved that, should he ever be wealthy, he makes similar opportunities open to other poor workers.

Throughout the next half-century Carnegie accumulated the fortune that would enable him to fulfill that pledge. Throughout his years being a messenger, Carnegie had taught himself the art of telegraphy. This skill helped him make contacts with all the Pennsylvania Railroad, where he went to just work at age 18. Throughout his 12-year railroad association he rose quickly, ultimately becoming superintendent from the Pennsylvania’s Pittsburgh division. He simultaneously invested in a variety of other businesses, including railroad locomotives, oil, and iron and steel. In 1865, Carnegie left the railroad to manage the Keystone Bridge Company, which had been successfully replacing wooden railroad bridges with iron ones. Through 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. Before selling Carnegie Steel he had started to consider how to deal with his immense fortune. In 1889 he wrote a famous essay entitled The Gospel of Wealth, of which he stated that wealthy men should live without extravagance, provide moderately with regard to dependents, and distribute the rest of their riches to profit the welfare and happiness belonging to the common man–using the consideration to assist you to only those would you help themselves. The Perfect Fields for Philanthropy, his second essay, listed seven fields in which the wealthy should donate: universities, libraries, medical centers, public parks, meeting and concert halls, public baths, and churches. He later expanded this list to include gifts that promoted scientific research, the actual spread of knowledge, plus the promotion of world peace. Many of these organizations always this very day: the Carnegie Corporation in Nyc, one example is, helps support Sesame Street.

Resulting from his background, Carnegie was particularly interested in public libraries. At some point he stated a library was the absolute best gift for any community, because it gave people a chance to improve themselves. His confidence was dependant upon the results of similar gifts from earlier philanthropists. In Baltimore, to illustrate, a library offered by Enoch Pratt ended up being utilized by 37,000 folks twelve months. Carnegie thought that the relatively small number of public library patrons were of more value towards their community as opposed to the masses who chose to not enjoy the library.

Carnegie divided his donations to libraries in to the retail and wholesale periods. Over the retail period, 1886 to 1896, he gave $1,860,869 for 14 endowed buildings in six communities in the nation. These buildings were actually community centers, containing recreational facilities for example private pools together with libraries. During the years after 1896, named the wholesale period, Carnegie not necessarily supported urban multipurpose buildings. Instead he gave $39,172,981 to smaller communities that had limited use of cultural institutions. His gifts provided 1,406 towns with buildings devoted exclusively to libraries. Over half his grants were for less than $ten thousand. Although a lot of the towns receiving gifts were within the Midwest, overall 46 states took advantage of Carnegie’s plan.

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

When Andrew Carnegie died in 1919 at age 84, he had given nearly one-fourth of his life to causes whereby he believed. His gifts to numerous charities totalled nearly $350 million, almost 90 percent of his fortune. Carnegie regarded all education as a means to raise people’s lives, and libraries provided certainly one of his main tools to aid Americans form a brighter future. Questions for Reading 1 1. How did progress and industrialization affect Carnegie, both as he was young, and in the future? 2. The amount formal education did Carnegie have? What factors contributed to his interest on books and reading? 3. What did Carnegie believe wealthy people need to do with the money? Why did he think that? Do you agree? 4. How did supporting libraries match Carnegie’s past and the 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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