There are Carnegie libraries in many english speaking countries around the world (including the one shown above in Roseau, Dominica – one of 5 in the Caribbean).
Much has been written about those in the United States, Canada, Ireland and Scotland – links to some of the main web resources and books can be found below.
I’ve also tried to visit Carnegie libraries wherever I’ve been able to find them – some more unexpected than others. And where I haven’t visited yet, I may have been able to find an old postcard or information on the web.
General book references:
- Carnegie Corporation Library Program 1911–1961. New York: Carnegie Corporation. Anderson, Florence (1963).
- Carnegie Grants for Library Buildings, 1890-1917. New York: Carnegie Corporation of New York. Miller, Durand R. (1943).
- Carnegie Libraries, George S Bobinski (1969)
General web articles:
- Andrew Carnegie’s surprising legacy (History.com 2017)
There are always stories about Carnegie libraries in the news – I’ve created this page to record them.
The wikipedia pages on the US Carnegie legacy are very well structured and there is a lot of information about individual libraries.
I also discovered this teaching resource: Carnegie Libraries: The Future Made Bright, designed to help students better understand the role of philanthropy in U.S. history and the place of libraries in American culture.
- A book of Carnegie libraries, Theodore Wesley Koch (1917)
- Books, Bluster, and Bounty: Local Politics & Carnegie Library Building Grants in the Intermountain West, 1890-1920, Susan H. Swetnam (2012)
- Carnegie Libraries across America: A public legacy, Theodore Jones (1997)
- Free to All: Carnegie Libraries and American Culture, 1890-1920, Abigail van Slyck (1996)
- What hundreds of american libraries owe to Carnegie’s disdain for inherited wealth (The Conversation, 2017)
The libraries built in Canada are listed on wikipedia
- The Best Gift: A Record of the Carnegie Libraries in Ontario, Margaret Beckman et al
- Local library, global passport: the evolution of a Carnegie library, J Patrick Boyer. 2008. “By tracing evolution of library service in the Canadian town of Bracebridge from 1874 to the present day within the broad sweep of larger cultural and economic patterns, Boyer’s engaging book provides a specific example of the universal transformation of books and information technologies and the libraries that house them from the 19th to 21st centuries”. This book was written to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Andrew Carnegie Library in Bracebridge in 2008.
The main resource for information about the libraries built in the country of Carnegie’s birth can be found on Gerald Blaikie’s website. It is extremely thorough, and contains lots of information about the man and his legacy, as well as photos and drawings of specific libraries.
Republic of Ireland
Between 1897 and 1913, Andrew Carnegie donated over £170,000 to fund the building of 80 libraries in Ireland. 62 of those libraries survive today and Brendan Grimes is the expert, who has produced a thorough catalogue and (I think) curated an exhibition of photos of them.
I’ve visited a number of Carnegie libraries in Wales, and so far haven’t found a website which tracks the legacy there – so I’ve decided to extend the coverage on this site to include welsh libraries. To find then, click on the location category: Wales.
Update: Someone else has researched the Carnegie legacy! In 2021 a book was published: Free and Public – Andrew Carnegie and the libraries of Wales. by Ralph A Griffiths. University of Wales Press. His book includes a gazetteer, a map and a selection of images. there is also a chapter on abortive proposals for libraries. The gazetteer is a rich source of information on the original grants – taken I think from documents in the National Records of Scotland, and local newspapers. Andrew Green has written a review of this book in a blog post: Carnegie libraries in Wales (September 2021)
Rest of the World
Australia: 4 libraries
Barbados: Bridgetown (wikimedia image) [nb I did visit this library, and did some family history research, as my grandfather’s lifeboat washed up there after a torpedo sunk the Scottish Star in 1941. But we took no photos of the library!]
Belgium: Leuven (wikimedia images)
Fiji: Suva (wikimedia image)
Greece: A new one to me! The Gennadius library in Athens was dedicated in April 1926, and funded by the Carnegie corporation. This library is owned by the American School of Classical Studies. [Thanks Anne for sharing this link!]
Malaysia: Kota Bahru. Unfortunately, this library was demolished in 1982, and I haven’t found any photos of it. This news article contains information about the history (although the last couple of lines are completely wrong – as this blog shows, there were many more than 2 Carnegie funded libraries built outside the US!)
New Zealand: 18 libraries (list on wikipedia) – including:
- Hokitika (flickr photo)
Puerto Rico: San Juan (wikimedia image)
Saint Lucia: Castries
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: Kingstown
Seychelles: Victoria (wikimedia image – a postcard showing ‘His Excellency the Governor (Sir Walter Edward Davidson) & Mrs. Davidson’s visit to the Victoria Carnegie Library, on the day of its opening in 1910.’)
South Africa: 12 libraries
Trinidad and Tobago: San Fernando