Andrew Carnegie’s decision to aid library construction developed away from their own experience. Born in 1835, he spent his first 12 years while in the coastal town of Dunfermline, Scotland. There he listened to men read aloud and discuss books borrowed coming from the Tradesmen’s Subscription Library that his father, a weaver, had helped Carnegie began his formal education at age eight, but were required to stop after only 36 months. The rapid industrialization belonging to the textile trade forced small businessmen like Carnegie’s father using business. Thus, the household sold their belongings and immigrated to Allegheny, a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Although these new circumstances required the young Carnegie to venture to work, his learning failed to end. After the year within a textile factory, he became a messenger boy towards the local telegraph company. Many of his fellow messengers introduced him to Col. James Anderson of Allegheny, who every Saturday opened his personal library for 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, when the colonel’s representatives aimed to restrict the library’s use, Carnegie wrote a letter with the editor of the Pittsburgh Dispatch defending the appropriate among all working boys to have fun with the pleasures for the library. More valuable, he resolved that, should he be wealthy, he will make similar opportunities available to other poor workers.

Covering the next half-century Carnegie accumulated the fortune that may enable him to fulfill that pledge. Throughout his years as an effective messenger, Carnegie had taught himself the ability of telegraphy. This skill helped him make contacts because of the Pennsylvania Railroad, where he went along to work on age 18. During his 12-year railroad association he rose quickly, ultimately becoming superintendent for the Pennsylvania’s Pittsburgh division. He simultaneously invested in various other businesses, including railroad locomotives, oil, and iron and steel. In 1865, Carnegie left the railroad to take care of the Keystone Bridge Company, that had been successfully replacing wooden railroad bridges with iron ones. Through 1870s he was concentrating 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 started to consider what to do with his immense fortune. In 1889 he wrote a famous essay entitled The Gospel of Wealth, by which he stated that wealthy men should live without extravagance, provide moderately for their dependents, and distribute the rest of their riches to profit the welfare and happiness in the common man–together with the consideration to assist you to solely 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 incorporate gifts that promoted scientific research, the typical spread of knowledge, and also the promotion of world peace. A great number of organizations continuously this day: the Carnegie Corporation in The Big Apple, as an example ,, helps support Sesame Street.

As a result of his background, Carnegie was particularly interested in public libraries. At some time he stated a library was the very best gift for your community, as it gave people the chance to improve themselves. His confidence was depending on the outcomes of similar gifts from earlier philanthropists. In Baltimore, by way of example, a library offered by Enoch Pratt were definitely employed by 37,000 individuals one year. Carnegie believed that the relatively few public library patrons were of more value with their community rrn comparison to the masses who chose never to take advantage of the library.

Carnegie divided his donations to libraries within the retail and wholesale periods. Through the entire retail period, 1886 to 1896, he gave $1,860,869 for 14 endowed buildings in six communities in america. These buildings were actually community centers, containing recreational facilities which include swimming pools and even libraries. Within the years after 1896, termed as a wholesale period, Carnegie never supported urban multipurpose buildings. Instead he gave $39,172,981 to smaller communities that had limited access to cultural institutions. His gifts provided 1,406 towns with buildings devoted exclusively to libraries. Over half his grants were cheaper than $10,000. Although a lot of the towns receiving gifts were inside Midwest, as a whole 46 states took advantage of Carnegie’s plan.

Andrew Carnegie stopped making gifts for library construction after having a report meant 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 determined that for being really effective, the libraries needed trained personnel. Buildings ended up provided, but this time the time had come to staff these people with professionals who would stimulate active, efficient libraries into their communities. Libraries already promised continued to always be 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 in which he believed. His gifts to several charities totalled nearly $350 million, almost 90 percent of his fortune. Carnegie regarded all education as an approach to improve people’s lives, and libraries provided an example of his main tools to aid Americans generate 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. How much formal education did Carnegie have? What factors led to his involvement in books and reading? 3. What did Carnegie believe wealthy people need to do because of their money? Why did he assume that? Does a person agree? 4. How did supporting libraries match Carnegie’s past and the 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, Over the Trail of Carnegie Libraries, Antiques and Collecting (February 1994); Gerald R. Shields, Recycling Buildings for Libraries, Public Libraries (March/April 1994).

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