From The Washington Post:
Carnegie’s support for libraries reflected a genuine belief in their educational and cultural importance that stemmed from his own experience as an immigrant youth in Pittsburgh, historian Wayne Wiegand said. The need was great.
Libraries were often afterthoughts, located in abandoned churches or empty storefronts. In Chatfield, Minn., [historian George S.] Bobinski wrote, the library shared space with a public restroom whose matron doubled as the librarian.
The money came with strings. Wiegand said communities had to provide the land and commit to supporting the library in perpetuity with revenue equal to 10 percent of the grant. Carnegie’s $40 million went only to English-speaking nations — Bobinski notes that an additional $16 million was donated to build 830 libraries in other countries.
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