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

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

Although these new circumstances required the young Carnegie to attend work, his learning failed to end. After a year in the textile factory, he became a messenger boy for the local telegraph company. A few 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 an ebook. Carnegie later said the colonel opened the windows by which the light of information streamed. In 1853, whenever the colonel’s representatives aimed to restrict the library’s use, Carnegie wrote a letter to your editor of this Pittsburgh Dispatch defending the perfect of all working boys to savor the pleasures within the library. More vital, he resolved that, should he ever be wealthy, he would make similar opportunities available to other poor workers.

Within the next half-century Carnegie accumulated the fortune that is going to enable him to satisfy that pledge. During his years as a good messenger, Carnegie had taught himself the art of telegraphy. This skill helped him make contacts aided by the Pennsylvania Railroad, where he went to just work at age 18. During his 12-year railroad association he rose quickly, ultimately becoming superintendent of this Pennsylvania’s Pittsburgh division. He simultaneously invested in many other businesses, including railroad locomotives, oil, and iron and steel. In 1865, Carnegie left the railroad to control the Keystone Bridge Company, that has been successfully replacing wooden railroad bridges with iron ones. Through 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. 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, through which he stated that wealthy men should live without extravagance, provide moderately for dependents, and distribute the remainder of their riches to benefit the welfare and happiness on the common man–aided by the consideration for helping only those who would help themselves. The Best Quality Fields for Philanthropy, his second essay, listed seven fields 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 feature gifts that promoted scientific research, the overall spread of information, as well as the promotion of world peace. Some of these organizations keep this present day: the Carnegie Corporation in The Big Apple, for instance, helps support Sesame Street.

Caused by his background, Carnegie was particularly interested in public libraries. At some time he stated a library was the ideal gift for that community, given it gave people the ability to improve themselves. His confidence was dependant upon the results of similar gifts from earlier philanthropists. In Baltimore, for instance, a library given by Enoch Pratt has been employed by 37,000 people in one full year. Carnegie considered that the relatively few public library patrons were of more value with their community as compared to the masses who chose not to ever take pleasure in the library.

Carnegie divided his donations to libraries within the retail and wholesale periods. Through retail period, 1886 to 1896, he gave $1,860,869 for 14 endowed buildings in six communities across the nation. These buildings were actually community centers, containing recreational facilities which includes swimming pools combined with libraries. While in the years after 1896, referred to as the wholesale period, Carnegie will no longer supported urban multipurpose buildings. Instead he gave $39,172,981 to smaller communities that 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 towns receiving gifts were on the Midwest, altogether 46 states taken advantage of Carnegie’s plan.

Andrew Carnegie stopped making gifts for library construction right after a report designed to him by Dr. Alvin Johnson, an economics professor. In 1916 Dr. Johnson visited 100 of this existing Carnegie libraries and studied their social significance, physical aspects, effectiveness, and financial condition. His final report figured that to generally be really effective, the libraries needed trained personnel. Buildings were definitely provided, but now it was time to staff these with professionals who would stimulate active, efficient libraries with 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 various charities totalled nearly $350 million, almost 90 % of his fortune. Carnegie regarded all education as a means to enhance people’s lives, and libraries provided without doubt one of his main tools to support Americans establish a brighter future. Questions for Reading 1 1. How did progress and industrialization affect Carnegie, both as he was young, and down the road? 2. The amount of formal education did Carnegie have? What factors led to his need for books and reading? 3. What did Carnegie believe wealthy people need to do in relation to their money? Why did he feel that? Do you really agree? 4. How did supporting libraries fit with Carnegie’s past along with his 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, For the Trail of Carnegie Libraries, Antiques and Collecting (February 1994); Gerald R. Shields, Recycling Buildings for Libraries, Public Libraries (March/April 1994).