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A Man, his Motorcycle and Andrew Carnegie's Legacy

Me & The Bee

A couple of years ago, when I started library school, I found out that Wisconsin had a relatively high number of Carnegie Libraries in the United States - 63, (of which 60 remain). After Andrew Carnegiemade his fortune, and however it was made, he made funding arrangements to start libraries acrosss the Unites States. He did this in remberance of the library he was allowed to go in as a boy, which had helped him to learn and succeed.

What Mr. Carnegie helped create and left behind was a legacy of beautfiul buildings, based upon four designs, yet all a little different. Each was to be the center of the community in the city or town where it was built, the diamond in the engagement ring. Designed to have a presence on the street side, the libraries were generally built very wide along the facade, yet very shallow in depth. They were all striking. They help communities band together to raise funds, and assured a free public library to the citizens, helping to make better citizens.

Unfortunately, many Original Carnegie Libraries have been torn down, others ravaged by time or nature. However, some forward-thinking comunities have saved these little treasures, expanding them to accomodate larger collections and citizenry, or even,in the case of Stoughton, a new library was built partially over the over the top to protect the original!

My Carnegie Libraries so far:

Waukesha, WI Built in 1912. Little remains of the original structure. A sign shows where the original entrance was, but that is the only way you would know it was a Carnegie Library. The steps would have quite a climb as they rose to the first floor by almost 25 feet.

Janesville, WI Replaced by the new (and beautiful) Hedberg Library, the Carnegie building still stands and is used as a meeting hall for the Masons.

Stoughton, WI This little gem was carefuly tucked under the wing (roof) of the new addition, in a beautiful act of preservation. If you are a Carnegie Nerd - don't miss this treasure.

Galena, IL The original building is still being used. It sits atop the hill, looking over the river and city and boasts the original cast iron shelves, and tile fireplaces created by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright in the main reading area and the children's area below.

Kentland, IN There were a few designs to choose from when it came to building a Carnegie library, Kentland has the unique Southwestern Mission Style architecture - in a small Midwestern town! Just beautiful and recently (2009) had an addition put on the back side that tripled their space and blended well with the origianl design.

Complete List of Wisconsin Carnegie Libraries

"To Become Old and Wise, you Must First Be Young and Foolish"