Andrew Carnegie

The annual survey is available to the public at the Hampton Public Library.  The annual survey is a requirement for the State Library.  The Hampton Public Library is accredited at the highest rank of Tier 3.

Andrew Carnegie was born on November 25,1835 in Dunfermline Scotland.  His family  immigrated to the United States when he was ten years old. He worked in a telegraph office  where the owner had a personal library that he let Andrew use.  Andrew then went to work for the railroad in a series of jobs.  By 1889 he owned Carnegie Steel Corporation, the largest of its kind in the world.  In 1901 he sold his business for $200 million.  When he sold his business he would spend the rest of his days to philanthropic work.  Carnegie was an avid reader for much of his life, he donated $5 million to the New York Public Library so that the library could open several branches in 1901. Devoted to learning, he established Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, which is now known as Carnegie-Mellon University. The next year he created the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.. Carnegie has been quoted as saying about public libraries, "I believe that it outranks any other one thing that a community can do to benefit its people."  Carnegie donated to Iowa the funds to build 101 libraries.  He built a total of 1,679 in the United States.  His grants for public libraries ran from 1892 until his death in 1919.

Andrew made no attempt to provide building plans along with his grant money, leaving the architectural design to be determined by each locality. But there were so many bad buildings erected in these early years of library giving, and so many complaints from librarians who had to contend with functional problems, that Carnegie, and later the Carnegie Corporation of New York, sent out standard plans along with the monetary grant.  What may have been gained in functional efficiency, however, was lost in architectural variety.  Soon, in small towns all over America, there came to be an architectual style known as Wesley, Romanesque.  A stranger in the community seldom had difficulty in spotting the Carnegie Library and the Methodist Church, which in many towns confronted each other across the square.

In the years that lay ahead, and up to the time of his death, Carnegie and the Carnegie Corporation would give 2811 free public libraries, of which 1946 In the United States, 600 in Britain and Ireland, 156 in Canada, 23 in New Zealand, 13 in South Africa, 6 in the British West Indies, 4 in Australia, and 1 each in the islands of Seychelles, Mauritius, and Fiji.  The total cost of all libraries was $50,364,808.00; those in the United States $44,854.731.25. Every state in the Union except Rhode Island had at least one Carnegie Library, and there were also libraries in the District of Columbia and the territories of Hawaii and Puerto Rico.  Most of the libraries went to three Midwestern states; 164 to Indiana, 114 to Illinois, and 104 to Iowa.  But in Iowa only 99 libraries were actually built.

There continued to be a steady stream of criticism from those who felt Carnegie was doing too much and from those who thought he was doing too little.  But of all the criticism he was to receive for his philanthropic enterprises, the critical comments on his library program bothered him the least.  He knew that no other gifts were as popular or had as direct an impact upon as large a number of people as did his public libraries.  A conservative estimate of the size of the reading public making use of Carnegie libraries in the United States a generation after he began his library program would be 35 million persons a day.  Carnegie like to boast that the sun never set on Carnegie Free Public Libraries.  They would remain his most enduring claim to popular fame.  It pleased him especially to think that his gift forced the community itself to match that gift over every ten-year period, decade after decade.

At this own request, Carnegie was buried in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in North Tarrytown, New York.  His grave is marked by a Celtic cross, cut from stone quarried near Skibo.  The cross bears the simple message:  Andrew Carnegie Born in Dunfermline, Scotland, 25 November 1835,  died in Lenox, Massachusetts, 11 August 1919.