Andrew Carnegie’s gift of books to the world
I cannot live without books. At least, that’s what Thomas Jefferson said. It is also something that some of the world’s most influential businesses and CEOs believe. Many of the world’s wealthy are stepping-up to donate money, resources, and equipment to help children develop and learn. In our day, Forbes-ranked CEOs like Frank VanderSloot, are giving back to the community by investing in youth development programs, schools, after-school learning programs, and more.
Books for Inquiring Minds
In days-gone-by, Andrew Carnegie was seen as THE example of a wealthy philanthropist giving generously to benefit others, especially children. Having grown up in humble circumstances, where access to books was difficult, Carnegie knew the power books could bring to an inquiring mind.
Beginning in 1883 and continuing until 1929, Carnegie donated millions and millions to establish 2,509 libraries in communities all across the world. Each library was built in partnership with a sponsor community that passed a “schedule of questions”.
Schedule of Questions
- demonstrate the need for a public library;
- provide the building site;
- pay staff and maintain the library;
- draw from public funds to run the library—not use only private donations;
- annually provide ten percent of the cost of the library’s construction to support its operation; and,
- provide free service to all.
As Carnegie libraries began dotting the world, children from impoverished neighborhoods began to have access to learning, which is something Carnegie was particularly sensitive to. For Carnegie, learning was an experience which elevated a person to a higher level. Some say that is why he was insistent that his libraries be build with stairs leading up to the entry way. Walking up stairs to enter a library was, to him, symbolic of elevating oneself to new heights because of the learning gained from books. Furthermore, Carnegie libraries were known to have lamp posts at the base of the stairs to symbolize the “enlightenment” learners will experience whilst in the library.
In conclusion, we can learn a lot from the generosity of wealthy men and women. When in the hands of kind people with giving hearts, wealth can bless the lives of so many in our communities, especially the children of our communities.