Let’s Talk About: Carnegie Libraries

We recognize them anywhere: Carnegie Libraries. Seemingly, every city has one….or more. Some 43 were built in Washington State; 32 are still standing and 14 are still used as libraries.

We think of Andrew Carnegie as a self-made millionaire and philanthropist, and he certainly was. But did you know he obtained most of his education from libraries? Andrew Carnegie was born in 1835 in Dunfermline, Scotland, and came with his family to America in 1848. He became the protegee of one Col. James Anderson who opened his personal library to “working boys” so that they might better themselves. Carnegie was grateful for this opportunity that he promised if he ever had the means he would provide for other boys what he had received.

Carnegie Library in Vancouver, Clark County, now a museum.

Carnegie funded the building of 2,509 “Carnegie Libraries” worldwide between 1883 and 1929. Of those, 1,795 were in the United States: 1,687 public libraries and 108 academic. Others were built throughout Europe, South Africa, Barbados, Australia, and New Zealand. Andrew Carnegie spent over $56 million of his fortune building these libraries and the buildings standing proud today are a living, lasting legacy.

Do you know where the Carnegie library is in YOUR town? (Google has a list.)

3 comments on “Let’s Talk About: Carnegie Libraries

  1. Larry Bafus says:

    My home is Pasco, Washington and we have a CarnegieLibrary built over 60 years ago. After about 30 years of library use the building was converted to a museum. The Tricities of Pasco, Kennewick and Richland organized a library in each of the 3 cities. The Pasco building was converted to a museum by the local historical society and is still being used for that purpose.
    Right now an additional building is going up next door to expand the work of the museum.

  2. Bettye Hull says:

    Spokane has a Carnegie building now used by an architectural firm.

  3. Rosemary Titus says:

    I will need to visit the next time I am that way.

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