Friday, August 24, 2012
Faithful followers of Dakota Datebook may remember that several libraries funded by Andrew Carnegie were established in North Dakota. Some questioned the manner behind his money-making prowess or his reputation as a ruthless businessman, but Andrew Carnegie nonetheless founded 2,509 libraries throughout the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. Of these, 1,679 were built in the US, and around eleven were built in North Dakota. Over the years, some have been demolished or remodeled, but some still stand today. Carnegie spent more than $55 million on libraries alone.
People who were interested in obtaining funding from Carnegie had to apply by filling out a form and returning it to James Bertram, Carnegie’s secretary. These forms asked for information like population of the area, whether or not there was already a library there, the number of books, circulation, finances, and how the library was housed.
Carnegie died in early August of 1919, but the libraries he established lived on. In the aftermath of his death, the Grafton News and Times reminisced on their own library, one of a handful of Carnegie libraries built in North Dakota. According to their report, it also happened to be the first city in North Dakota to possess a free public library.
Women of the city raised money for a library fund as early as 1896, and a Public Library Association was formed the following year. Carnegie provided $10,000 to fund the building. In 1903, the city purchased five lots, and the library was erected the following year.
So on this date, after Carnegie’s death, the library was able to report that it owned “7,000 well bound volumes on the shelves besides the current newspapers and the best magazines.”
Dakota Datebook written by Sarah Walker
Grafton News and Times, August 15, 1919