Andrew Carnegie (This is the third in a series of articles about the Howard County Public Library which will celebrate its 100th birthday on April 1, 2015.)

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When the men and women of Fayette decided that they wanted to build a public library in their town it was natural that they should turn to Andrew Carnegie and the Carnegie Corporation of New York for support.  Even today Carnegie’s name is identified with the founding of libraries and he is often called the “Patron Saint of Libraries.”

 

Andrew Carnegie was born in Dunfermline, Scotland in 1835.  He immigrated with his family to the Pennsylvania in 1848 and immediately began working in a cotton factory.  He loved to read and borrowed books from a retired merchant who made his personal library available to working boys. 

 

By 1865, after working for Western Union, the Western Division of the Pennsylvania Railroad and investing his earnings in several new companies, Carnegie was ready to organize the first of many companies.  His companies were very successful especially his steel company which was worth over $400 million when he sold it to J.P.Morgan in 1901.

 

A true philanthropist, “Carnegie established more than 20 organizations in the U.S. and abroad dedicated to philanthropy, promoting international peace, rewarding selfless heroism and pursuing other goals aimed at improving people’s lives,”  (http://carnegie.org/publications/carnegie-reporter/single/view/article/item/100/).    However, Carnegie is probably best known for donating money to create libraries.

 

According to the Carnegie Corporation website, Carnegie attributed much of his success to the education he received borrowing books as a young boy.  He believed anyone with a desire to better themselves could do so if they had the opportunity to read.  By helping to build public libraries, he was giving others the same chance he was given to succeed.

 

During the period from 1886 to 1925 Carnegie libraries were built in English-speaking countries around the world including 1,679 libraries in the United States.  In 1913 the Carnegie Corporation granted the city of Fayette, $10,000 to build its library.