Andrew Carnegie’s decision to compliment library construction developed using his personal experience. Born in 1835, he spent his first 12 years from the coastal city of Dunfermline, Scotland. There he heard men read aloud and discuss books borrowed within the Tradesmen’s Subscription Library that his father, a weaver, had helped Carnegie began his formal education at age eight, but must stop after only 36 months. The rapid industrialization belonging to the textile trade forced small businessmen like Carnegie’s father out from business. For this reason, the family sold their belongings and immigrated to Allegheny, a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Although these new circumstances required the young Carnegie to see work, his learning did not end. After a year from a textile factory, he became a messenger boy with 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 a magazine. Carnegie later said the colonel opened the windows where the sunlight of knowledge streamed. In 1853, the moment the colonel’s representatives attempted to restrict the library’s use, Carnegie wrote a letter to your editor from the Pittsburgh Dispatch defending the perfect of working boys to have enjoyment from the pleasures on the library. More essential, he resolved that, should he be wealthy, he makes similar opportunities provided to other poor workers.

Within the next half-century Carnegie accumulated the fortune that may enable him to meet that pledge. Throughout his years for a messenger, Carnegie had taught himself the art of telegraphy. This skill helped him make contacts along with the Pennsylvania Railroad, where he went along to just work at age 18. Throughout his 12-year railroad association he rose quickly, ultimately becoming superintendent on the Pennsylvania’s Pittsburgh division. He simultaneously invested in several other businesses, including railroad locomotives, oil, and iron and steel. In 1865, Carnegie left the railroad to deal with the Keystone Bridge Company, which has been successfully replacing wooden railroad bridges with iron ones. By your 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. Even 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, by which he stated that wealthy men should do without extravagance, provide moderately because of their dependents, and distribute the rest of their riches to benefit the welfare and happiness from the common man–using the consideration that may help solely those who would help themselves. The Right 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 actual spread of information, along with the promotion of world peace. Many of these organizations still this day: the Carnegie Corporation in New York City, such as, helps support Sesame Street.

By reason of his background, Carnegie was particularly interested in public libraries. At some point he stated a library was the absolute best gift to have a community, because it gave people a chance to improve themselves. His confidence was using the results of similar gifts from earlier philanthropists. In Baltimore, to illustrate, a library distributed by Enoch Pratt were definitely applied by 37,000 people a year. Carnegie thought that the relatively small number of public library patrons were of more value with their community than the masses who chose never to benefit from the library.

Carnegie divided his donations to libraries into your 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 the nation. These buildings were actually community centers, containing recreational facilities for example pools combined with libraries. With the years after 1896, called 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 for less than $ten thousand. Although almost all the towns receiving gifts were with the Midwest, as a whole 46 states taken advantage of Carnegie’s plan.

Andrew Carnegie stopped making gifts for library construction right after a report developed to him by Dr. Alvin Johnson, an economics professor. In 1916 Dr. Johnson visited 100 of the existing Carnegie libraries and studied their social significance, physical aspects, effectiveness, and financial condition. His final report figured that to always be really effective, the libraries needed trained personnel. Buildings has been provided, however right now the time had come to staff these people with experts who would stimulate active, efficient libraries within their communities. Libraries already promised continued being 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 through which he believed. His gifts to several charities totalled nearly $350 million, almost 90 percent of his fortune. Carnegie regarded all education as a way to better people’s lives, and libraries provided one among his main tools to assist Americans establish a brighter future. Questions for Reading 1 1. How did progress and industrialization affect Carnegie, both when he was young, and later in life? 2. How much formal education did Carnegie have? What factors contributed to his fascination with books and reading? 3. What did Carnegie believe wealthy people should do making use of their money? Why did he think that? Do you 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, On the Trail of Carnegie Libraries, Antiques and Collecting (February 1994); Gerald R. Shields, Recycling Buildings for Libraries, Public Libraries (March/April 1994).