Andrew Carnegie’s decision to assist library construction developed outside of their own experience. Born in 1835, he spent his first 12 years in the coastal town of Dunfermline, Scotland. There he heard men read aloud and discuss books borrowed via the Tradesmen’s Subscription Library that his father, a weaver, had helped create.Click This Link Carnegie began his formal education at age eight, but been required to stop after only 36 months. The rapid industrialization of your textile trade forced small businessmen like Carnegie’s father beyond business. For this reason, the family unit 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 did not end. Right after a year in any textile factory, he was a messenger boy with the local telegraph company. Most 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 where the lighting of knowledge streamed. In 1853, if the colonel’s representatives attempted to restrict the library’s use, Carnegie wrote a letter to the editor in the Pittsburgh Dispatch defending an appropriate coming from all working boys to relish the pleasures of this library. More important, he resolved that, should he ever be wealthy, he will make similar opportunities offered to other poor workers.
On the next half-century Carnegie accumulated the fortune that may enable him to fulfill that pledge. During his years as being a messenger, Carnegie had taught himself the art of telegraphy. This skill helped him make contacts aided by the Pennsylvania Railroad, where he went along to just work at age 18. Throughout his 12-year railroad association he rose quickly, ultimately becoming superintendent on 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 handle the Keystone Bridge Company, which has been successfully replacing wooden railroad bridges with iron ones. By the 1870s he was focusing 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. Prior to selling Carnegie Steel he had begun to consider what to do 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 because of their dependents, and distribute most of their riches to help the welfare and happiness within the common man–using the consideration that can help only those who would help themselves. The Best 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 incorporate gifts that promoted scientific research, the normal spread of knowledge, and then the promotion of world peace. Most of these organizations continue to this very day: the Carnegie Corporation in Ny, as an example ,, helps support Sesame Street.
On account of his background, Carnegie was particularly serious about public libraries. At one point he stated a library was the absolute best gift for just a community, considering that it gave people the cabability to improve themselves. His confidence was depending on the outcomes of similar gifts from earlier philanthropists. In Baltimore, to illustrate, a library distributed by Enoch Pratt were used by 37,000 individuals one full year. Carnegie believed the relatively small number of public library patrons were more value for their community compared to masses who chose not to benefit from the library.
Carnegie divided his donations to libraries in the retail and wholesale periods. In the retail period, 1886 to 1896, he gave $1,860,869 for 14 endowed buildings in six communities in the states. These buildings were actually community centers, containing recreational facilities like swimming pools together with libraries. During the years after 1896, termed as a wholesale period, Carnegie not necessarily supported urban multipurpose buildings. Instead he gave $39,172,981 to smaller communities which had limited access to cultural institutions. His gifts provided 1,406 towns with buildings devoted exclusively to libraries. Over half his grants were for under $10,000. Although lots of the towns receiving gifts were while in the Midwest, overall 46 states benefited from Carnegie’s plan.
Andrew Carnegie stopped making gifts for library construction after having a report produced to him by Dr. Alvin Johnson, an economics professor. In 1916 Dr. Johnson visited 100 from the existing Carnegie libraries and studied their social significance, physical aspects, effectiveness, and financial condition. His final report figured that to become really effective, the libraries needed trained personnel. Buildings were definitely provided, but this time the time had come to staff all of them with experts who would stimulate active, efficient libraries of their communities. Libraries already promised continued to become built until 1923, but after 1919 all financial support was considered library education.
When Andrew Carnegie died in 1919 at age 84, he had given nearly one-fourth of his life to causes where he believed. His gifts to several charities totalled nearly $350 million, almost 90 percent of his fortune. Carnegie regarded all education as a means to further improve people’s lives, and libraries provided among his main tools to help Americans build a brighter future. Questions for Reading 1 1. How did progress and industrialization affect Carnegie, both when he was young, and down the road? 2. The amount of formal education did Carnegie have? What factors contributed to his involvement in books and reading? 3. What did Carnegie believe wealthy people must do with their money? Why did he imagine that? Will you agree? 4. How did supporting libraries fit with 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, On your Trail of Carnegie Libraries, Antiques and Collecting (February 1994); Gerald R. Shields, Recycling Buildings for Libraries, Public Libraries (March/April 1994).