Carnegie-Era Libraries

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Historical information

In Iowa, between 1900 and 1919, library buildings were also erected in communities that were not funded by Andrew Carnegie.  In several instances, these buildings, designated on this site as ‘Carnegie-Era’ libraries, were built through the commitment of the entire community.  In other towns, the library building was primarily the gift of a local donor, who then often served on the library board of trustees.  Interestingly, these latter were the situations that were initially touted as the ideal scenario by Alice S. Tyler, the Secretary of the Iowa Library Commission until 1913.  In the early editions of the Iowa Library Quarterly, several of these libraries were featured as the model for future libraries in the state.  Despite Tyler’s enthusiasm for this other model of a local donor, the vast majority of the library buildings built in Iowa during this period were funded instead by Carnegie.  As our understanding of the roles Iowa’s libraries played in their communities is expanded, the Carnegie-Era communities provide a valuable counterpoint to the Carnegie-funded libraries.

                                                                                                                                                                               Text by SLS