2. He used his millions for philanthropy and education funding institutions such as Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and many other worthwhile endeavors.
3. Last year Forbes estimated his fortune at $298.3 BILLION dollars based on 2007 dollars. Carnegie's best known quote regarding his wealth was something along the lines that he spent the first half of his life making his fortune, and the second half giving it all away.
4. Like any historical figure there are some aspects of his life that bear scrutiny. Carnegie has been classified as a robber baron and rightly so, but his philanthropic efforts should be recognized as well.
5. More than 2,500 libraries were built with Carnegie’s money from locations in the United States, Europe, and even Fiji.
6. U.S. towns that were lucky enough to snag the funds for a Carnegie library were given the gift of great architecture and access to great books. Generally, each library was unique to its local with regard to design. Many styles include the Beaux-Arts, Italian Renaissance, Baroque, Classical Revivial, and Spanish Colonial.
8. Why libraries? Carnegie could have given his money for many worthwhile causes, and he did, but libraries and the love of reading remained at the top of the philanthropist’s list. This is mainly due to his own experiences as an immigrant. He credited books and his self-education as one of the ingredients to his success in business.
9. Carnegie’s name rarely appeared on the libraries, but there were usually other mottos and sayings carved into the buildings. Most of the doorways were topped with the saying, “Let there be light.”
11. There were some U.S. communities that actually refused to ask Carnegie for a library grant even though they were rarely refused. This was due to the many questionable business practices and his status as a Robber Baron.
12. Don’t you just love wandering around a library? It didn’t used to be that way. The stacks were closed and you had to have a topic in mind in order to get your hands on a book since the librarian was the one who removed books from the shelves. Carnegie libraries stopped this practice. The stacks were open and patrons were free to explore.
Over at Georgia on My Mind I’ve posted references to two of Atlanta’s Carnegie libraries. One is gone forever, yet a part of it will remain part of the landscape for some time to come. Another location is no longer a library…..Today, its unique use fits into the Atlanta neighborhood that passionately claims it.
The above pictures are all various Carnegie libraries.
Great resources to learn more about Carnegie libraries can be found here, here, and here.