Andrew Carnegie was a monster who tried to make up for his monstrosities by charitable works. Of course people had to be aware that he was their benefactor, hence his name being applied to all he did. In other creations, Skibo Castle is his monstrous ego writ large.
His great gift to the nation is the Carnegie libraries and and this was our one. I’m not much of an architectural historian but the long windows are especially Scottish late nineteenth/early twentieth century design. Think Rennie Mackintosh. For the rest, I am ready to be educated but I suspect that it is an architecture all of its own. A lovely building and a superb library.
Two years ago we were presented with a new school and community centre with gym and swimming pool. The library was moved there and the Carnegie building was vacated. It was a sad move. The library part of the complex is a repository for a reference-only section of historic and local books with a few popular books for lending. The quality is abysmal. The rule of silence is long gone and one tries to read to the sound of screeching children and bellowing adults. The automatic check in/out system for library books hardly ever works. Opening hours have been reduced.
All this complaining makes me sound a real old fuddy-duddy but I believe we have lost a component part of literacy. When I was a boy there was only money for books on birthdays and at Christmas, nowhere near enough to satisfy my voracious appetite for reading. That was what the library did then and fails to do now. By time I was in high school I’d had a thoroughgoing education in the arts, courtesy of the public library.
It was a lifetime of devouring books (I hesitate to say literature; I read everything) that led me to writing and I have always written. I decided long ago that if I was writing I should enjoy the process – this article is not entirely devoid of fountain pens!
So thank you, Andrew, you old monster.. It seems you are no longer needed and I fear my time is passing too. It was bound to happen.
3 thoughts on “Library (Husband Again)”
A moving article, Deb. Thank you.
My pleasure, Alberto.
As I’m sure you know, Carnegie libraries are all over the United States, more so in the smaller cities and towns. And usually, they’ve been replaced by wholly different structures which cater to the various wishes of today’s library users.
Well, no matter the urge that drove him to do it, we can be pleased and thankful that while they existed they served a vital purpose to their communities.
This site tabulates them and provides links to the various states’ libraries: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Carnegie_libraries_in_the_United_States