Wisconsin Library Heritage Center

The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center is a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation promoting understanding and appreciation of the history of libraries and librarianship in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin’s Carnegie Libraries

Posted by Larry T. Nix
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on Thursday, July 21, 2016 in WLA 125
Andrew Carnegie was often referred to as the “Patron Saint of Libraries”.  He donated $56,162,622 for the construction of 2509 library buildings throughout the English-speaking parts of the world.  He donated $40,000,000 for the construction of 1679 public library buildings in the United States.  Sixty Wisconsin communities were the recipients of 63 public library grants from Andrew Carnegie.  In addition, two academic institutions also received Carnegie library grants.  Fifteen of these Carnegie buildings have been razed, thirty have been repurposed or are no longer used as libraries, but 20 are still being used as public libraries.  Most of the Carnegie buildings that continue to be used as libraries have received various expansions and modifications. In some cases the expansion is larger than the original Carnegie building. Years in which Carnegie library grants were received (not including the 3 branch libraries) along with the number of libraries: 1901(7); 1902 (9); 1903 (12); 1904 (3); 1905 (8); 1907 (3); 1908 (1); 1911 (2); 1912 (2); 1913 (5); 1914 (3); 1915 (3).  Only six other states received more Carnegie grants than Wisconsin.  The first Carnegie building completed in Wisconsin was the Central Library of the Superior Public Library.  More information about Wisconsin’s Carnegie libraries can be found on Wikipedia.  Judy Aulik’s Library Postcards site has images of Wisconsin Carnegie libraries on postcards.
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Andrew Carnegie's birth, the Carnegie Corporation distributed Carnegie's framed portrait to all Carnegie libraries in America in 1935 including those in Wisconsin. One of those portraits is shown above.


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