Andrew Carnegie’s decision to aid library construction developed beyond his personal experience. Born in 1835, he spent his first 12 years with the coastal city of Dunfermline, Scotland. There he listened to men read aloud and discuss books borrowed through the Tradesmen’s Subscription Library that his father, a weaver, had helped create.click for source Carnegie began his formal education at age eight, but simply had to stop after only 36 months. The rapid industrialization of the textile trade forced small businessmen like Carnegie’s father from business. Subsequently, the family sold their belongings and immigrated to Allegheny, a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Although these new circumstances required the young Carnegie to go to work, his learning did not end. After a year within a textile factory, he became a messenger boy for your 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 by which the light of knowledge 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 an appropriate of working boys to enjoy the pleasures in the library. More valuable, he resolved that, should he be wealthy, he makes similar opportunities suitable to other poor workers.
Above the next half-century Carnegie accumulated the fortune which will enable him to fulfill that pledge. Throughout his years as a good messenger, Carnegie had taught himself the skill of telegraphy. This skill helped him make contacts while using Pennsylvania Railroad, where he visited work at age 18. Throughout his 12-year railroad association he rose quickly, ultimately becoming superintendent of the Pennsylvania’s Pittsburgh division. He simultaneously invested in many different other businesses, including railroad locomotives, oil, and iron and steel. In 1865, Carnegie left the railroad to handle the Keystone Bridge Company, which had been successfully replacing wooden railroad bridges with iron ones. Because of the 1870s he was being focused 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. Just before 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 for dependents, and distribute most of their riches to profit the welfare and happiness belonging to the common man–along with the consideration to aid only those would you help themselves. The Most Suitable 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 information, as well as promotion of world peace. Most of these organizations go on to this very day: the Carnegie Corporation in The Big Apple, for example, helps support Sesame Street.
As a consequence of his background, Carnegie was particularly excited about public libraries. At some point he stated a library was the best possible gift to obtain a community, given that it gave people the chance to improve themselves. His confidence was depending on outcomes of similar gifts from earlier philanthropists. In Baltimore, by way of example, a library given by Enoch Pratt have been as used by 37,000 people in twelve months. Carnegie believed that the relatively small number of public library patrons were of more value towards their community compared to masses who chose to not take advantage of the library.
Carnegie divided his donations to libraries to the retail and wholesale periods. While in the retail period, 1886 to 1896, he gave $1,860,869 for 14 endowed buildings in six communities in the us. These buildings were actually community centers, containing recreational facilities which includes swimming pools together with libraries. Within the years after 1896, called the wholesale period, Carnegie not anymore supported urban multipurpose buildings. Instead he gave $39,172,981 to smaller communities which had limited a chance to access 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 the towns receiving gifts were within the Midwest, in total 46 states benefited from Carnegie’s plan.
Andrew Carnegie stopped making gifts for library construction after a report built 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 concluded that to get really effective, the libraries needed trained personnel. Buildings ended up provided, but now the time had come to staff them with pros who would stimulate active, efficient libraries in their own communities. Libraries already promised continued to always be 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 in which he believed. His gifts to several charities totalled nearly $350 million, almost 90 % of his fortune. Carnegie regarded all education as a method to raise people’s lives, and libraries provided undoubtedly one of his main tools to aid Americans generate a brighter future. Questions for Reading 1 1. How did progress and industrialization affect Carnegie, both when he was young, and later on? 2. The amount formal education did Carnegie have? What factors contributed to his curiosity about books and reading? 3. What did Carnegie believe wealthy people ought to do with the money? Why did he suspect that? Do you really agree? 4. How did supporting libraries match 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, At the Trail of Carnegie Libraries, Antiques and Collecting (February 1994); Gerald R. Shields, Recycling Buildings for Libraries, Public Libraries (March/April 1994).