Andrew Carnegie: A Legacy of Support for Public Libraries

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Taken at the Carnegie Library of Homestead in Munhall, PA, which was built in 1896.

A Look Back: Andrew Carnegie’s Legacy of Libraries

Today, the public library is a mainstay in cities and towns across the country, however, just over a century ago, very few public libraries existed worldwide.

Andrew Carnegie’s dedication to the establishment of free public libraries laid the foundation for a wide network of American libraries. Carnegie had the foresight to realize that with access to knowledge, anyone could become successful. Often referred to as “The Patron Saint of Libraries,” he made it his mission to ensure that this dream was realized. Over the past century, Carnegie Corporation of New York has built on its founder’s vision by helping to fund a total of more than 2,500 libraries worldwide. 

The American Library Association recently released its 2016 State of America’s Libraries Report, highlighting the important role libraries continue to play in communities across the country and re-affirming their role as a places of congregation, education and leadership. The report also found a sharp increase in the growing pushback against more controversial books, and revealed  instances of attempted “book banning” to be higher than ever before.  On the whole, the report solidified the American library as a barometer of where we currently stand as a society when it comes to access to knowledge and information, as well as a catalyst for the enlightenment and coalescing of communities and individuals across the nation.

Learn more about Andrew Carnegie’s life.