New England Carnegies
August 24, 2021 1:12 PM   Subscribe

New England Carnegies
A website that honors the libraries that Andrew Carnegie helped to fund.

I agreed to take over a website that was all about Carnegie Libraries in New England. It was built in a combination of Word-to-HTML and other atrocities. I transferred the domain and it was sitting waiting for me to have some free time to actually update it. A friend tried to help me with it using something that involved Jeckyl and a bit more tech than I could really stay on top of and I filed it away until I was ready to deal with it. But in the process we broke some stuff and I'd look at the broken site and feel defeated. Now I've got other projects I am procrastinating on and so this month was the time to finish this one.

Please let me know if you notice broken bits or typos. I still need to get it in this-century style and do some other factual updates, but at least it's stable and useful. Enjoy!
Role: current owner, code monkey
posted by jessamyn (8 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Oh, this is fabulous!

I love the one in Vinalhaven, ME.

(And I don't have $3,000,000, but what I wouldn't give to live in a former Carnegie. I even have thousands of books to put in it!)

I know what it's like to have several projects waiting for some attention. I'm so glad you were able to get this one updated, so you could share it with us! Thank you!
posted by kristi at 1:40 PM on August 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

I've gone to this one almost every day for a couple of years!

I'm inclined to think Carnegie was likely terrible because of his Gilded Age ascent, but scanning his Wikipedia page, maybe he was the mildest of his cohort? Regardless, these are really cool building, and it's great that they're documented!
posted by ignignokt at 2:44 PM on August 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

Yes I've been to that one a lot too! It's funny Carnegie was definitely a robber baron, but also someone concerned about his reputation who gave a large amount of his fortune away. Most other dudes were worse. I nitpick about his program (i.e. he gave money to segregated libraries instead of, say, trying to change segregation laws, but not everyone's cut out to be a social activist, he did also fund libraries in Black communities in the South) but overall the libraries program delivered libraries or at least the idea that libraries were GOOD into the American consciousness. Vermont, for example, doesn't have many Carnegie libraries but it has a LOT of libraries that are from about the same time and look about the same.
posted by jessamyn at 3:24 PM on August 24, 2021

overall the libraries program delivered libraries or at least the idea that libraries were GOOD into the American consciousness -

Yes yes yes! But ALSO - the buildings themselves!

I actually do love libraries even more than I love cool old architecture, but I have to say I am extremely glad that we have these wonderful buildings (as your website notes, only three are no longer standing, which is pretty remarkable). There are some fantastic Carnegie libraries in San Francisco that have likewise withstood decades of urban churn.

I love the robust (despite all the cuts and challenges) library culture of America, and I also love the buildings that have housed it. Your website is a lovely celebration of two things I love.
posted by kristi at 4:04 PM on August 24, 2021

Love this, so neat! Two of the libraries I went to as a kid are on this list. Good memories.

(Also, ignignokt is back, and apparently has been for a while! Hi! long time!)
posted by Wretch729 at 10:18 AM on August 25, 2021

I have a picture of my boy Milo [7ish] in front of this one and also trying to look proprietal beside the Milo Fire Station, Milo Hardware, etc. The Milo Library is coming up for its centennial in '23. Seven winters later, the same chap made his first steps to independence by playing D&D every Tuesday night in this classic Carnegie and staying with loco parentis pals because it meant missing the last bus home.
There was a series of Thomas Davis lectures celebrating 100 years of Carnegie Libraries in Ireland.
And TIL that Carnegie Library Lighthouse Service shipped boxes of books to keepers who lived remote.
posted by BobTheScientist at 1:44 PM on August 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

Wonderful Jessamyn! We have, I think, twelve intact left in NZ (out of probably 18 built). We have a local one 30ks away in Gore - now the wonderful Eastern Southland Gallery, only enough room for one showing at a time, plus poetry, traveling harpists and many other non-mainstream forms. I've blogged about it twice:

Blowing in the Wind, the week after this government banned almost all single use plastic including shopping bags!


Secret (library) Garden, a garden between the Carnegie and the next library, recently closed down due to black mould which proved unsolvable by the fairly hopeless council.
posted by unearthed at 1:50 AM on August 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

Related to this is the buildings Schwab helped get built. My college had a small Schwab Hall that we used for theatre.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 10:22 AM on September 8, 2021 [1 favorite]

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