Tuesday, May 17, 2016

An Old Library Tour

 A question for my readers (and not just in the United States):  do you have a Carnegie library in your town?

You well may.  Funded by industrialist Andrew Carnegie, a total of 2,509 were built between 1883 and 1929.  Many were built in the United States, but some were built overseas.
South Carolina Carnegie Libraries
I remember two of them.  The first, in Fairfield, Iowa was a library I spent hours in during the brief time I lived in Fairfield.  It was built in 1892 and is a museum today.

The other is the former library in Binghamton, New York, built in 1903 and abandoned in October of 2000.  

It languishes, vacant, like so many other historic properties in the Southern Tier of Upstate New York.  (You can see it, just to the right of the tall building, partially blocked by a lamp post).

Recently, a local media outlet took a tour of old Bing public library which I would like to share with you. 

A sign promising development ages, in front of the building, along with the building itself.   Its steps are used by smokers from nearby offices, although they are roped off.

Viburnum, Broome County Public Library, May 16
The new library is much bigger and it has a pretty garden.   The garden is especially beautiful in spring.  But I miss the character of the old Carnegie library.  Even the children's library, which could only hold 12 people at a time due to safety concerns.

In some ways, the old saying is true:  "They don't build them the way they used to."


  1. What many folks don't realize is that libraries today not only have printed books and magazines, but ereader versions, electronic versions of a slew of books and magazines, music CD's, and some even have movies.
    What? You thought it was just newspapers that had a problem with their business model?

  2. There had been a Carnegie library in Walla Walla Washington, where I went to college (Whitman College). It was an art center by the time I was in college in the early 90's - unfortunately I never thought to go check it out.

    Just went to another nice Carnegie legacy on Sunday - the Carnegie's old mansion on the Upper East Side, now known as the Cooper-Hewitt Museum of Design. Great place to visit!

  3. Okay, so I went and Googled it. There's a Carnegie Libraries of California website: http://www.carnegie-libraries.org/

    Looks like they've all been torn down. Except for the one in Anaheim, which is used as a museum now. I've never been inside, but I drove by it all the time when I lived in Anaheim. Now I'll have to go. Next time I'm in Anaheim.

  4. I grew up patronizing a Carnegie library in the West End (the poor side of town) of Louisville, Kentucky. I don't know what I would have done without it! We have a Carnegie library where I live now, in Corydon, Indiana. It used to be the town library but, when the library became county-wide and took over the bank building, the little Carnegie became a genealogy and local history library, still in much use. I love a story with a happy ending! :)

  5. Fascinating. I have no idea whether there's one here where I live now or where I grew up, but you can bet I'm off to Google it.

  6. There is nothing like a real library and real books in my humble opinion...

  7. True...they dont make it as they used to

  8. We don't have many public libraries and the private ones generally concentrate on fiction. I think very few people even read books these days, preferring kindles and kobos to printed times. I can see the library as an institution slowly phasing out with digital storage of knowledge and it's easy accessibility.

  9. Hi, we had several too in South Carolina. I learn something new everyday. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Years ago, I used to love to go to the one in Olympia, WA - which was actually a bookstore at that time, but had much of the feel of a library still.


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