carnegie_building.jpg
The Carnegie library in Eau Claire, Wisconsin in 1908. Photo courtesy of the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library.

Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie was born on the 25th of November, 1835, in Dunfermline, Scotland. His parents, William and Margaret, both came from working class families with ties to social and occupational reform.[1] The Carnegies emigrated to the United States in 1848, after William’s handloom business fell to the advances of the Industrial Revolution. Working in a button factory, 13 year old Andrew was a “voracious reader” and educated himself by reading. [2] Carnegie worked many jobs in his youth, including a telegram messenger, and several positions with the railroad industry, before becoming divisional superintendent for the Pennsylvania Railroad.[3]

Once Carnegie had disposable income, he began making investments. His first investment was to buy ten shares of Adams Express, a company that manufactured railway sleeping cars, which returned an initial dividend of $10.[4] He continued to invest his money, increasing his wealth by branching out into other types of transportation. He founded his first company, Keystone Bridge Company in 1865, and his first steel company in 1873.[5] The company eventually became known as the Carnegie Steel Company, which was credited with several innovations in the steel industry, including the use of an open-hearth furnace.[6] Carnegie’s business style and management was also highly regarded.[7]

Carnegie Philanthropy

Carnegie sold his steel company in 1901 to J.P. Morgan, for nearly $500 million.[8] . The sale came on the heels of The Gospel of Wealth, a book Carnegie authored in which he states it is the responsibility of the rich to share their wealth with the community, to provide needed services to the underprivileged.<ref< Andrew carnegie: Patron saint of libraries. (2010). History Magazine, 11(5), 35-38</ref>. Following his own advice, Carnegie distributed his wealth to many different communities through several charitable foundations, including the Carnegie Institute of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Carnegie Hero Fund Commission, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.[9]

Perhaps Carnegie’s most well-known philanthropic endeavor is his gift of public libraries. Although there were a few notable exceptions, such as the library donated to his hometown of Dunfermline, nearly all of the libraries Carnegie provided funds for were required to subsidize the gifts with local taxes.[10] The subsidy required was 10% of the Carnegie’s standard $10,000 donation. Communities applying for public library funds were also required to establish there was a need for a library, provide the land to be built upon, and agree to use the building solely as a library (not for any other civic or recreational use). This set of requirements became known as the “Carnegie Formula.”[11]

Carnegie donated funds for 2,509 libraries between 1881 and 1917, a majority of which were built in the United States. Funds were also provided to libraries in Europe, Canada, Africa, and the Caribbean.[12] Carnegie donated over $56 million to build public libraries, becoming known as “The Patron Saint of Libraries.”[13]

Architectural Style
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Column crown for Carnegie library in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Photo courtesy of the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library

While Carnegie had restrictions on what the buildings could be used for, he did not have any requirements for the building design or aesthetics.[14] That being said, the City Beautiful movement sweeping the country resulted in many of the Carnegie libraries being built in grand, traditional style. The City Beautiful movement was a social-architectural reformation focused on improving the appearance of increasingly crowded urban areas; the hope being that a cleaner, more attractive city would encourage citizens to extend the refinement to their own homes and lives.[15] Even further, the City Beautiful movement “sought to teach the principles of democracy through architecture."[16] The Carnegie Libraries were a natural fit for the movement. The stately pillars, pedimented gables, dramatic moldings, and overall symmetry were easily recognizable exterior features to identify a free public library.

The interior of many Carnegie libraries was designed with the practical concern of allowing one librarian to oversee the operation of the library. For that reason, buildings were generally one story, with an open floor plan and the book shelved on the walls, with desk space in the center of the building.[17] Beyond the practical day-to-day concerns, library building plans needed to be approved prior to receiving Carnegie funds. The review of building proposals was done by James Bertram, Carnegie's secretary. Although there were no specific requirements, Bertram did provide applying libraries with a pamplet entitled, "Notes on the Erection of Library Buildings." [18] The pamphlet suggested that library buildings should have a "large well-lighted reading area with high windows to leave wall space for shelving."[19] In addition, "fireplaces were discouraged because they took too much room and were more expensive than a basement."[20]

Just as no particular floor plan or building design were required, neither was the use of any architect endorsed. However, in an effort to ensure funding, many municipalities selected an architect with previous experience designing a Carnegie library that was approved by Bertram. Some of the more prominent regional architects were W. H. Weeks, Edward L. Tilton, Clifford Shopbell, Wilson B. Parker,and Patton & Miller[21]

Links

From L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library:

List of Carnegie libraries on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Carnegie_libraries_in_Wisconsin

Website by Glenn A. Walsh, full of information about Andrew Carnegie and his library legacy: http://andrewcarnegie.tripod.com/



References


  1. ^ Carnegie Corporation of New York. (2012). About us. Retrieved April 7 2012 from http://carnegie.org/about-us/foundation-history/about-andrew-carnegie/
  2. ^ Carnegie Corporation of New York. (2012). About us. Retrieved April 7 2012 from http://carnegie.org/about-us/foundation-history/about-andrew-carnegie/
  3. ^ Frost, B. (2001). Man of Steel. Biography, 5(6), 80.
  4. ^ Frost, B. (2001). Man of Steel. Biography, 5(6), 80.
  5. ^ Frost, B. (2001). Man of Steel. Biography, 5(6), 80.
  6. ^ Encyclopaedia, B. (2011). Carnegie, Andrew. Britannica Biographies, 1.
  7. ^ Encyclopaedia, B. (2011). Carnegie, Andrew. Britannica Biographies, 1.
  8. ^ Andrew carnegie: Patron saint of libraries. (2010). History Magazine, 11(5), 35-38.
  9. ^ The Carnegie Corporation of New York. (2009). Founding and Early Years. Retrieved from http://carnegie.org/about-us/foundation-history/founding-and-early-years/</ref>
    Perhaps Carnegie’s most well-known philanthropic endeavor is his gift of public libraries. Although there were a few notable exceptions, such as the library donated to his hometown of Dunfermline, nearly all of the libraries Carnegie provided funds for were required to subsidize the gifts with local taxes.<ref>Walsh, G. A. (1999). Carnegie Libraries. Cobblestone, 20(4), 32.
  10. ^ Walsh, G. A. (1999). Carnegie Libraries. Cobblestone, 20(4), 32.
  11. ^ Walsh, G. A. (1999). Carnegie Libraries. Cobblestone, 20(4), 32.
  12. ^ Andrew carnegie: Patron saint of libraries. (2010). History Magazine, 11(5), 35-38.
  13. ^ Andrew carnegie: Patron saint of libraries. (2010). History Magazine, 11(5), 35-38.
  14. ^ Rizzo, J. (2006). Preserving the past by looking into the future. American Libraries, 37(4), 58-60.
  15. ^ Rizzo, J. (2006). Preserving the past by looking into the future. American Libraries, 37(4), 58-60.
  16. ^ Rizzo, J. (2006). Preserving the past by looking into the future. American Libraries, 37(4), 58-60.
  17. ^ Van Slyck, A. A. (1999). Carnegie libraries of California. Retrieved from http://www.carnegie-libraries.org/styles.html
  18. ^ Kortum, L. (2011). Carnegie grants: How do we get a Carnegie Library?. Retrieved from http://www.carnegie-libraries.org/lucy_cg.html.
  19. ^ Kortum, L. (2011). Carnegie grants: How do we get a Carnegie Library?. Retrieved from http://www.carnegie-libraries.org/lucy_cg.html.
  20. ^ Kortum, L. (2011). Carnegie grants: How do we get a Carnegie Library?. Retrieved from http://www.carnegie-libraries.org/lucy_cg.html.
  21. ^ Van Slyck, A. A. (1999). Styles: Carnegie library architecture. Retrieved from http://www.carnegie-libraries.org/styles.html