Andrew Carnegie’s decision to support library construction developed using his experience. Born in 1835, he spent his first 12 years while in the coastal town of Dunfermline, Scotland. There he heard men read aloud and discuss books borrowed with 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 3 years. The rapid industrialization of the textile trade forced small businessmen like Carnegie’s father outside of business. As a result, a family sold their belongings and immigrated to Allegheny, a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Although these new circumstances required the young Carnegie pay a visit to work, his learning did not end. After having a year with a textile factory, he became a messenger boy to your local telegraph company. A bit of his fellow messengers introduced him to Col. James Anderson of Allegheny, who every Saturday opened his personal library to the young worker who wished to borrow a book. Carnegie later said the colonel opened the windows whereby the sunshine of information streamed. In 1853, whenever the colonel’s representatives made an effort to restrict the library’s use, Carnegie wrote a letter to your editor for the Pittsburgh Dispatch defending the correct of all of the working boys to have enjoyment from the pleasures in the library. More important, he resolved that, should he ever be wealthy, he would make similar opportunities open to other poor workers.

Covering the next half-century Carnegie accumulated the fortune which would enable him to satisfy that pledge. Throughout his years to provide a messenger, Carnegie had taught himself the skill of telegraphy. This skill helped him make contacts using the Pennsylvania Railroad, where he traveled to just work at age 18. Throughout his 12-year railroad association he rose quickly, ultimately becoming superintendent belonging to the 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 look after the Keystone Bridge Company, that had been successfully replacing wooden railroad bridges with iron ones. By 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 how to handle his immense fortune. In 1889 he wrote a famous essay entitled The Gospel of Wealth, in which he stated that wealthy men should do without extravagance, provide moderately with regards to their dependents, and distribute most of their riches to benefit the welfare and happiness of the common man–because of the consideration that will help solely those would you help themselves. The Very Best Fields for Philanthropy, his second essay, listed seven fields to 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 add in gifts that promoted scientific research, the normal spread of information, plus the promotion of world peace. A large number of organizations continue to this day: the Carnegie Corporation in New York, as an illustration, helps support Sesame Street.

Because of his background, Carnegie was particularly considering public libraries. At one point he stated a library was the very best gift to have a community, considering that it gave people a chance to improve themselves. His confidence was depending on results of similar gifts from earlier philanthropists. In Baltimore, for example, a library given by Enoch Pratt has been used by 37,000 people in a year. Carnegie believed that the relatively small number of public library patrons were more value in their community in comparison to the masses who chose to not ever take pleasure in the library.

Carnegie divided his donations to libraries directly into the retail and wholesale periods. Within the retail period, 1886 to 1896, he gave $1,860,869 for 14 endowed buildings in six communities in the country. These buildings were actually community centers, containing recreational facilities just like private pools in addition to libraries. From the years after 1896, referred to as wholesale period, Carnegie do not supported urban multipurpose buildings. Instead he gave $39,172,981 to smaller communities that had limited admittance to cultural institutions. His gifts provided 1,406 towns with buildings devoted exclusively to libraries. Over half his grants were cheaper than $ten thousand. Although a lot of the towns receiving gifts were during the Midwest, in total 46 states took advantage of Carnegie’s plan.

Andrew Carnegie stopped making gifts for library construction using a report created to him by Dr. Alvin Johnson, an economics professor. In 1916 Dr. Johnson visited 100 of your existing Carnegie libraries and studied their social significance, physical aspects, effectiveness, and financial condition. His final report concluded that to end up being really effective, the libraries needed trained personnel. Buildings was provided, however right now it was time to staff these with experts who would stimulate active, efficient libraries throughout their communities. Libraries already promised continued to get 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 of which he believed. His gifts to various charities totalled nearly $350 million, almost 90 percent of his fortune. Carnegie regarded all education as a method to further improve people’s lives, and libraries provided one of his main tools that may help Americans set up a brighter future. Questions for Reading 1 1. How did progress and industrialization affect Carnegie, both when he was young, and in the future? 2. How much money formal education did Carnegie have? What factors led to his interest on books and reading? 3. What did Carnegie believe wealthy people needs to do with regards to their money? Why did he suspect that? Does a person 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, Within the Trail of Carnegie Libraries, Antiques and Collecting (February 1994); Gerald R. Shields, Recycling Buildings for Libraries, Public Libraries (March/April 1994).