Carnegie and the Development of Libraries

A discussion on Andrew Carnegie and his philosophy as it affected the establishment of libraries.

This paper explores the development of libraries in the late nineteenth century and the impact of the money and philosophy of Andrew Carnegie. The paper then looks at the library profession in general and discusses how libraries have changed today. The paper considers the minor role of by books in today’s culture and concludes that the library used to inspire child-like trust and innocence in the possibility to be changed by books, but it is an era long gone, never to return.
In the 1940 film A Tree grows in Brooklyn, which is set at the turn of the century, the heroine, Sissy is shown going to the library; walking determinedly to the shelf and picking precisely the right volume. When asked by the librarian why a young girl would want to spend her Saturday steeped in Burn’s Anatomy of Melancholy, the ten year old girl looks at her blankly and says a matter of factly, It was next. She then proceeds to explain to the astonished librarian that she has read her way through the A’s and it is her goal that she is going to read through the whole library because she wants to know everything there is to know.
This one scene depicting turn of the century America encapsulates the romance of the of libraries and books that was instilled in children at that time. A good deal more reverence was paid to the American bounties of free speech and free libraries by immigrants to this country. Many spoke little But they knew that the opportunity to move up existed in America and so they were the first to push their children’s education.”