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Save a Library - Carnegie Libraries at Risk

Updated on September 23, 2016

Vintage Carnegie Libraries Threatened by the Wrecking Ball

In the early twentieth century, Andrew Carnegie made massive donations to build libraries across the United States. Now many of those buildings have fallen on hard times. Many are too small now and have been converted to museums or left empty.

It's sad to see these buildings that served their communities well, but now might be torn down or left to decay.

Daddy postcard by Philbradley


This Shows Some of the Deterioration of the Carnegie Libraries

Cities find the maintenance costs high for older buildings

The vintage buildings become a maintenance headache for municipalities. Things break down in century old buildings. Unfortunately that often tips the balance so the old building gets torn down and a new one built.

It makes me quite sad to see these handsome buildings abandoned or destroyed. I understand when a community grows too large for these old buildings, but my preference would be for them to be added to or converted into a museum or even into a private residence.

The one in my hometown of El Dorado now houses law offices. That is a good reuse since it is adjacent to the court house. I went to college in Emporia KS and used that Carnegie Library back in the 1970s. A few years ago I spent the day wandering around Emporia and was delighted to see the old building still standing.

Next door was a modern library and the Carnegie had become the historical museum. It's great to have those adjacent to each other. When I went inside, most of the original architectural elements were still in place. The photo shows the original drinking fountain in the lobby with its gorgeous tile work.

(photo of water fountain by Virginia Allain)


Learn More about Andrew Carnegie - Books available from Amazon

These are great for a student who likes history or biography. They learn about one of the great philanthropists and his rise from a poor immigrant to a wealthy man.

The Man Behind the Libraries - Andrew Carnegie

Portrait of Andrew Carnegie in a place of honor at the Carnegie Library in Eureka Springs.
Portrait of Andrew Carnegie in a place of honor at the Carnegie Library in Eureka Springs. | Source

Efforts to Save a Carnegie Library Building in Washington, D.C.

Location of the Libraries Mentioned on This Page

show route and directions
A markerWinchester KY -
Winchester KY
get directions

B markerClarksdale MS -
clarksdale MS
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C markerPittsburg PA -
pittsburg PA
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D markerLincoln CA -
lincoln CA
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E markerLong Beach CA -
long beach CA
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Carnegie Library Buildings Should Be Saved - People share their opinion on old library buildings

We should save these old library buildings because...

Marie Yunling 3 years ago - Save the Carnegie Libraries in honour of Andrew Carnegie who played a major part in educating our people.

Sam Custer 4 years ago - Yes. The Carnegie library that I enjoyed so much as a child was demolished many years ago. I still think of it often. It was such a wonderful place. The architecture was so much more interesting than the new wave of library buildings which all look alike - and like big box stores, inside and out. Ugh.

CruiseReady 5 years ago from East Central Florida

Yes, we should. It would be very sad to lose them. they really are American treasures!

Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

The architecture is fabulous on most of these and they have been a community focal point for generations. Even if the library has outgrown them, they can be used for a museum or other public use.

News Stories and Blogs about Carnegie Libraries for Sale

I'll add to this whenever I find a news article. Check to see if the building is still available if you want to buy one.

Do You Have a Favorite Old Library?

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    • CruiseReady profile image

      CruiseReady 6 years ago from East Central Florida

      I can still remember the first library I used to frequent as a child. It's sad to me that it no longer exists.

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 6 years ago from Canada

      Unfortunately, I live in the suburbs so our library is modern but in general I love old buildings and I bet we have some libraries in old buildings that need rescuing.