Today on NPR’s Morning Edition, Susan Stamberg offered the first in a series on the history and state of public libraries in the U.S. with this story on Andrew Carnegie, the man who is responsible for promoting the public library concept and providing millions to fund a system of 1,689 public libraries across the country starting in 1903 with the $300,000 he donated for the Carnegie Library in Washington, D.C. It was one of the first public buildings, beautifully designed in the beaux arts style, and was especially noteworthy in that it was open to all– women and children and all races (an unusually progressive policy for the time).
Evanston, too, benefited from Carnegie’s largesse. Our library (pictured at right) was built with a $50,000 grant on the corner of Orrington and Church Street in 1907. Read more about the history of our library here.