Carnegie Libraries in Denver and Around the World

Our nation owes a debt to Andrew Carnegie that we can never repay. Carnegie lit the lamp of learning in hundreds of communities by establishing public libraries across the United States. Hardly has anyone served public good as well as Andrew Carnegie.

Earlier this year Jan and I enjoyed an afternoon in a Carnegie library in Denver, Colorado, now called the Woodbury Branch Library. It was built in 1913 and modernized in 1993 and in 2012. Between 1889 and 1917 the Carnegie Corporation built 35 libraries in the State of Colorado (for a total cost of $749,943). Thirty of these buildings are still standing, and 18 still operate as libraries. Four Carnegie libraries in Denver are picture below. In addition, the University of Denver was awarded an academic library building on April 16, 1906, with a $30,000 grant. Here is a link to the Wiki page, Carnegie Libraries in Colorado.

A total of 2,509 Carnegie libraries were built between 1883 and 1929. 1,689 were built in the United States, 660 in the United Kingdom and Ireland, 125 in Canada, others in Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Serbia, Belgium, France, the Caribbean, Mauritius, Malaysia, and Fiji.

Carnegie required the elected officials—the local government—to:

  • Demonstrate the need for a public library.
  • Provide the building site.
  • Pay staff and maintain the library.
  • Draw from public funds to run the library—not use only private donations,
  • Annually provide ten percent of the cost of the library’s construction to support its operation.
  • Provide free service to all.

Let us pause and give thanks to Andrew Carnegie, the man who lit the lamp of learning for children and adults all over the world by establishing libraries and making the gift of books available to everyone.

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