Monday, February 13, 2012

Thank you, Mr. Carnegie

Carnegie's first library in Dunfermline, Scotland

Many American cities, including my own, have Andrew Carnegie to thank for his generosity in donating money for the building of lending libraries. In 1899, my city received $450,000 from Carnegie and built not only our main library building but eight branches. One of those branches is right down the road from me and still operates as a library. Two others that I know of are still operating. A couple of others have closed or moved into other facilities. One Carnegie building in a nearby neighborhood has become an office building and another is a community center.

I write about this as I am doing my research on libraries to visit on my Southern Tour. Nashville's original Carnegie library was torn down. The new main library was opened in 2001 and was designed by Robert A.M. Stern.

It doesn't appear as though Carnegie's money made it to Memphis. Although its library system was founded in 1888, I find no mention of a Carnegie grant. Its 330,000-square-foot Central Library opened to the public on November 10, 2001.

I guess I won't be seeing the ghost of Mr. Carnegie in the stacks after all.

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