Andrew Carnegie donated the money to build 2,509 libraries, 1,689 of them in the Unites States and 23 of those being in Utah. I come across them in my exploring and decided a list of them here would be good to create.
Carnegie Libraries in Utah
- American Fork (demolished, also the last built in the United States)
- Brigham City
- Cedar City (demolished)
- Chapman Branch – Salt Lake City
- Mount Pleasant
- Murray (demolished)
- Ogden (demolished)
- Ogden (25th Street)
- Parowan (demolished)
- Price (demolished)
- St. George (demolished)
From the National Register’s nomination form:
Architecturally, Utah’s Carnegie libraries are quite similar and directly reflect the recommendations of the 1911 “Notes of Library Buildings” sent to applicant communities by James Bertram, Andrew Carnegie’s secretary. According to the “Notes,” the ideal building in terms of efficiency and economy was a small rectangular form with a basement and one floor. This recommendation was for small town libraries, the type that were most frequently funded. It was felt that larger buildings in larger communities required extra planning to avoid wasted space. All of Utah’s Carnegie libraries are brick, one and one half stories in height with a raised basement, and ten of the fourteen have flat roofs. Twelve are rectangular buildings with the Manti, Provo, Eureka and Salt Lake City libraries being the exceptions. Libraries in Manti, Provo, and Eureka are square and the Salt Lake City library is L-shaped. The Manti Library may have been designed before the “Notes” were received which may account for the variance in form although as early as 1908 the Carnegie Library Board required that plans of the proposed buildings be sent with the application for approval. The main entrance is centered between windows or groups of windows on the facades of twelve of the libraries. The Salt Lake City branch varies, having a side entrance, and the Mount Pleasant Library has two entrances into the sides of a projecting bay.
Utah’s Carnegie libraries not only follow the recommendations made by Carnegie, and therefore reflect the national image of what the small town library should be, but they also reflect nationally accepted stylistic trends as well. The “Notes of Library Buildings” did not call for a particular style for the exterior, rather, it stressed that the exterior should be plain and dignified, making it possible for a practical and economical layout on the interior. Because the Classical Revival Style was the most popular stylistic choice for public buildings in the first two decades of the twentieth century, and because it is inherently stately and dignified, it was the logical choice when the decorative treatment of the exterior of the Carnegie libraries was being considered. Eight of the fourteen extant Carnegie Libraries reflect Classical Revival influences, and at least five of those libraries in Utah that have been torn down or altered may be added to this list. Other styles or style variants that were chosen for Carnegie libraries include the Prairie Style, the Craftsman Style, and a variant of the Spanish Colonial Revival Style. All of these styles were initially and primarily used for residential construction. Because the scale of the type of library that was funded was small, however, these styles could appropriately be applied to the library building as well. In addition, the rigid format of the acceptable building form made it possible for a more informal style such as the Craftsman Style to be represented in a form that was dignified and stately.
Generally the libraries that reflect Classical Revival Style influences have symmetrically arranged facades with a central pavilion or portico, and are divided into distinct bays by pilasters topped with capitals. The Panguitch, Beaver, Salt Lake City, and Tooele libraries vary from that general format. The Panguitch, Beaver, and Salt Lake City libraries have round arch windows, more reminiscent of Renaissance Revival buildings than strictly Classical Revival buildings. The Tooele Library is an exception in many respects. It does have a symmetrical façade, but it is more closely tied to the temple-form building, reflecting Greek Revival influences, with the gable end facing the street and a portico spanning the façade. Five of the eight Classical Revival buildings have a wide entablature, complete with a frieze and cornice. They
include the Manti, Garland, Richmond, Ephraim, and Tooele libraries. The Manti and Ephraim libraries have modillions under the cornice. The Beaver and Salt Lake City libraries have a less pronounced entablature, and the Panguitch library has none at all. Six of the eight Classical Revival Style buildings have parapets above the cornice, the exceptions being the Panguitch and Tooele libraries. To summarize, the Manti, Garland and Ephraim libraries are the most accurate representations of the Classical Revival Style, although none of them is a particularly significant example of the style in Utah. The Garland Library is a stylized version of the same type, its classical decorative elements haying been reduced to geometric forms. The Beaver and Salt Lake City libraries more closely reflect Renaissance Revival influences, the Tooele Library, resembling a bungalow in scale and massing, reflects Greek Revival influences, and there are only hints of Classical Revival influences in the Panguitch Library. These eight Carnegie libraries, considered as a group, accurately represent the way that Classical Revival influences were expressed in the design of small scale, rural public building types.
The Prairie Style, though initially considered a style for residential design, was quite popular in Utah for relatively small, non-residential buildings as well, such as the Ladies Literary Club building in Salt Lake City, and the chapel of the LDS Branch for the Deaf in Ogden. Local expression of the style was as a low building, one story in height with a raised basement, a flat or hip roof, a horizontal emphasis, bands of stained or leaded glass windows, and geometric decorative elements. Each building is a form composed of interlocking geometric elements in which the horizontal effect is most dominant, but which is always balanced against distinctive vertical decorative elements. In keeping with the recommended Carnegie library format, all three of Utah’s Carnegie libraries designed in the Prairie Style are one story rectangular buildings with raised basements. That form is particularly compatible with the Prairie Style which calls for a low, ground hugging form with a horizontal effect. In all three libraries, however, bands of distinctive leaded or stained glass panels counter the horizontal mass. In the Brigham City and Smithfield libraries a parapet and a cornice or coping reinforce the horizontal effect. The broad hip roof with wide overhang of the Mount Pleasant Carnegie Library has the same effect. All three buildings are examples of Utah’s Prairie Style at its best. Each building is a unique
representation of the style, but all three buildings are tied together by common principles and common stylistic elements.
The Richfield Carnegie Library is the only Utah example of a library that reflects the effects of the Craftsman style. Its form and arrangement of openings and elements is similar to that of a majority of the Carnegie libraries. What varies, however, is the roof which is gabled and has a steep pitch. Clinker brick, a common building material for this particular style, gives the exterior of the building a texture that contrasts with the smooth brick surfaces of the rest of the libraries. The half timbering of the gable ends, and the use of steeply pitched entrance hoods with ogee shaped openings clearly express Craftsman influences.
The Lehi Library superficially represents the Spanish Colonial Revival Style, having been built as part of the Lehi City Hall complex which was designed in that style. It conforms with the recommended plan for the Carnegie Library.
A Spanish Revival flavor was achieved by stuccoing the walls and using red tile on the hip roof. The semicircular transom over the entrance is the only other element that reflects the Spanish Colonial Revival influence.
The Springville Library was designed in no particular style, but its form and arrangement of openings are comparable to that of the majority of extant Carnegie Libraries.
The thirteen Carnegie library buildings included in the Carnegie Library Thematic Resource Nomination are historically significant because, in addition to making important contributions to public education in their respective communities, they are Utah’s representatives of the important nation-wide Carnegie library program of the early twentieth century, and they document its unparalleled role in the establishment of community-supported, free public libraries in Utah. Several of these library buildings are also architecturally significant. Millionaire/philanthropist Andrew Carnegie funded the construction of over 1650 library buildings in the U.S., inspired both by his belief that the rich had an obligation to use their wealth for the betterment of mankind and by his conviction that libraries were one of the most effective and democratic institutions of public learning and moral elevation. The Carnegie library program was the major contributor to both the physical growth and the philosophical acceptance of free public libraries throughout the country and within the state of Utah. Carnegie libraries provided improved and expanded library services in the communities in which they were built, and they established standards of library operation and building design which were used for many years in the construction of non-Carnegie libraries in other communities. The program also contributed significantly to the widespread acceptance of the principle of local government responsibility for public libraries because it required that recipient communities provide, usually through a local tax levy, an annual maintenance budget for their libraries. The twenty-three Carnegie library buildings constructed in Utah, most of which were built in small towns, represent the most productive period of library growth in the state, as well as the only sustained library building movement until that of the 1960s. Six of the Carnegie libraries in Utah have been demolished, four have been altered
extensively, and, of the thirteen eligible buildings, four have already been listed in the National Register either as individual nominations or as part of an historic district.
Andrew Carnegie was a Scottish-born American industrialist who made his fortune in the steel mills of the eastern United States. His belief in the “Gospel of Wealth,” that the wealthy should use their money for the improvement of others, prompted him to donate over $311.5 million of his $400 million estate to various philanthropic ventures. His list of worthy philanthropies included universities, free public libraries, hospitals, public parks, cultural halls, swimming pools, and churches.
Andrew Carnegie’s gifts of library buildings began as early as 1881, when he built a library for his hometown of Dunfermilne, Scotland, and continued until 1917, during which time he donated over $56 million to the construction of
2,509 library buildings worldwide. 2 Of those, 1,679 buildings were constructed in the United States in 1,412 communities, most of them small towns.3 in some of the larger cities a large central library was built along with several branch libraries throughout the city. Most of the buildings which he donated during the nineteenth century were community centers which housed libraries, art museums, lecture halls, etc., and to many of them he also gave an accompanying endowment. However, around 1898, and for the next twenty years, he favored funding buildings for library use only. The Carnegie Library Board, headed by Carnegie’s secretary James Bertram, established the policies and procedures by which the program was administered.
Certain restrictions and requirements were attached to the building grants issued by Carnegie. The communities were required to provide the building site, the books and interior furnishings, and an annual maintenance budget equal to one-tenth of the overall building cost. This maintenance budget was to pay for the upkeep and operations of the building, the salary of a librarian, and the acquisition of new books. Amounts of the grants were roughly based on the town’s population. Towns of less than 1,000 population were ordinarily considered too small to support a library. Money was donated only to community governments, not to other organizations such as churches, clubs, etc. Also, Carnegie refused to donate money for remodeling older homes or buildings into libraries, and he did not want his libraries to be used for any other activities such as municipal or educational offices. Contrary to popular belief, Carnegie did not require that his name be used on the library buildings, though many of the libraries included it in their names as a token of appreciation to their benefactor.
In 1908, the Carnegie Library Board began requiring that building plans be submitted with the applications in order to ensure that the proposed buildings would not be too large, inefficient, or elaborate. In 1911 they began sending out a leaflet to applicants titled “Notes on Library Buildings,” which outlined the basic considerations that should be taken into account when designing a library building (such as the most efficient shape and interior layout), along with sketches of suggested floor plans. In the boards’ opinion, architects of the period were not well acquainted with the special functions and needs of libraries for most of the designs that were submitted were too elaborate and inefficiently laid out.
The “Notes” created a standard of what an efficient, modern library, especially a small-town library, should look like and what services it should provide. All of the Carnegie libraries constructed in Utah conform to the basic suggestions in the “Notes,” i.e. they are one-story rectangular buildings, most with raised basements, and feature the “plain but dignified” exterior requested. These standards were adopted for the construction of non-Carnegie libraries of the period as well. Several such libraries in Utah, including the Cache County Library in Logan, the Salina Library, the Tremonton Library, and the Kanab Library, have the appearance of a Carnegie library although they were not funded by Carnegie.
Almost all of the Carnegie libraries in Utah and throughout the country were masonry buildings. Although there was no restriction by Carnegie on the kinds of materials that could be used, frame buildings were apparently less popular because, in addition to being less permanent structurally, they lacked the solid, institutional appearance of stone or brick buildings. All of the Carnegie library buildings in Utah were masonry buildings.
Designs for the Carnegie library buildings in Utah were usually chosen by the library board members of each community from among several proposals submitted by local or state-wide architectural firms. Library board members from towns which received some of the later grants, such as Richmond, Brigham City, and Manti, traveled to communities which had already built libraries in order to examine their library facilities and determine which designs and features they preferred. The architectural firms of Ware & Treganza of Salt Lake City and Watkins & Birch of Provo were two of the most active firms in pursuing design contracts for Carnegie library buildings in Utah. Ware & Treganza are known to have designed four Carnegie library buildings – those in Mount Pleasant, Lehi, American Fork, and Springville – and Watkins & Birch are credited with designing at least six – Richmond, Provo, Eureka, Ephraim, Manti, Cedar City, and possibly Garland. Several other well-known Utah architects were also awarded design contracts for Carnegie libraries, including Fred W. Hodgson for the Smithfield Library, Smith & Hodgson for the Ogden Library, Shreeve & Madsen for the Brigham City Library, and Miller, Wool ley & Evans for the Price Library.
Carnegie libraries in Utah, as is the case of those around the country in general, met with varying degrees of success. The Brigham City Library, for example, proved to be one of the more successful of the libraries in the state. A 1934 report of that library provided statistics which compared its operations with those of an American Library Association “model library” and with those of a library in a representative Utah town. 4 The Brigham City Library operated on 25% less funds, circulated 2.3 times as many books per capita, and had almost the ideal number of books in stock as the A.L.A. “model library.” It compared even more favorably with a representative Utah library, circulating 2.5 times as many books per capita and having almost 2.4 times as many books in stock per capita. The Garland Public Library, on the other hand, did not fare as well. City officials complained that the new library required large expenditures to operate, and they felt that their old quarters had served them better.5 Several other Utah libraries, especially those in towns with small tax bases, found it difficult to maintain their buildings and services, much less expand them, and the services they could offer were often below national standards. As a whole, however, Carnegie libraries in Utah were viewed as an improvement in their communities, and they had a much higher rate of success in continuing in operation than did non-Carnegie libraries (87% to 65%).
The Carnegie Library Board, in an effort to determine the success of their library program, contracted in 1915 with Alvin Johnson, an economics professor at Cornell University, to make a nation-wide study of the Carnegie libraries. His report of the following year, though not totally unfavorable, pointed out what he considered to be some of the major flaws in the program. Johnson’s findings included the following observations: the ten percent annual maintenance fee, especially in small towns, was not sufficient to adequately maintain a vital library program; lack of trained, knowledgeable library personnel was a major reason for the passive, substandard services offered in many of the libraries; only a small percentage of the buildings were located on optimum sites, the land, in most cases, having been that most easily acquired and donated by the city. On the positive side, Johnson noted that the libraries had provided reading material to many people and had provided a practical and cultural service of great value to their communities.” The director of the Carnegie library program, James Bertram, however, rejected those findings, disagreeing with Johnson’s fundamental assumption that the program needed a strong central administration which would more carefully administer the program, train librarians, etc., rather than let the individual communities take responsibility for the eventual success of their libraries.
Although most of the Utah Carnegie libraries lacked sufficient funds for optimum operation, they did not apparently suffer from the other problems identified by Johnson. Building sites for all of the Carnegie libraries in Utah were in the central part of their respective towns, so the locational disadvantage cited by Johnson was never a problem for Utah’s Carnegie libraries. The formation of a State Library Board, the appointment of a state librarian, and the establishment of a training program for librarians were all in effect in Utah by at least 1914, thereby providing much of the direction
and supervision that Carnegie libraries as a whole reportedly lacked. Miss Mary E. Downey, a superbly qualified librarian with a degree in library science from the University of Chicago and over 13 years of library experience in the mid-west and in New York, was hired in 1914 as the state librarian. Her duty was “to assist in the creation of interest in the library movement, in the establishment of the right kind of a building and to see that they are properly fitted and equipped, that the books are correctly and conveniently shelved, and that they are standardized,” to visit all the library facilities around the state, and to submit a report along with recommendations to the State Library Board. As she traveled around the state, she also encouraged the citizens of the communities to provide a tax levy for the upkeep of their libraries. In 1914, under her direction, a state library convention was held and all new librarians were required to receive training in a special summer course on library work taught at the University of Utah.
The Carnegie library program ended November 7, 1917, not because of Johnson’s report, but primarily because of the demands of World War I. The Carnegie Library Foundation continued to operate for several years beyond that date,
administering the program for communities which had already applied for or had been given a library grant, but which were slow to complete the establishment of their libraries. For example, the American Fork Library building was not
completed until 1922, although the grant had been awarded several years earlier. At least seven Utah communities had planned on applying for a Carnegie library grant in 1918, including Salt Lake City, which had plans for four more branch libraries. 11 Because of the cessation of the program, however, those plans were not realized until many years later.
The Carnegie library program was the greatest impetus to the library movement in Utah, rivalled only perhaps by the state-wide effort in the 1960s that produced numerous new library buildings, some of which replaced Carnegie library buildings. Until the 1960s, Carnegie libraries made up probably one-half to one-third of the total number of libraries in the state. In 1914, of the “30 libraries in the state in good condition,” 15 were Carnegie libraries. Considering the slow increase of the number of libraries built in the state after the demise of the Carnegie library program, it is reasonable to assume that the 23 Carnegie libraries that were eventually built made up a significant portion of the total number of libraries in the state. Several library buildings, such as those in Kanab, Salina, and Kaysville, were built in Utah during the 1930s and ’40s as projects sponsored by New Deal programs, and a few others were built by the communities themselves, such as the Tremonton library, but the number of such libraries is quite small. Nationally, Utah ranked ninth in the amount of money received per capita for the construction of Carnegie libraries.