Marceline Carnegie Library

The Carnegie Library was founded after a petition to the Carnegie Corporation was filed with the City Council on March 19, 1917. On May 21, 1917, the Andrew Carnegie Foundation notified the City Council that $12,500 would be allowed the City of Marceline for a library building, the city promising to maintain the library by levying a tax for that purpose.

December 3, 1917, a Library Board was appointed consisting of the following members: George Colville, Bert Oldham, Francis E. Bridwell, A. L. Kleine, W. E. Parks, J.E. Ellis, Mrs. Sig Steiner, Mrs. W.G. Lancaster, and Mrs. E. W. Taylor.

The first meeting of the Board was held at the City Hall December 11, 1917, and these officers elected: George Colville, president; Bert Oldham, treasurer, and Francis E. Bridwell, secretary. It was the task of this Board to select a site for the building, make arrangements with the Carnegie Foundation for the money, receive bids from architects and obtain the Carnegie Foundations’ approval for the plans.

In February, 1919, Edgar P. Madorie of Kansas City, Missouri was chosen architect for library and the rest of 1919 was devoted to getting building underway.

In August 1920, a book drive was made and 744 books were received. On November 1, 1920, the library was opened to the public with 1701 books ready for use. The number of volumes in the library have increased steadily through the years and the 1962 report showed a book stock of 14,377.

In spite of limited funds the Marceline Carnegie Library is considered outstanding among libraries in small communities. The service which Carnegie Library has offered the citizens of Marceline in the past forty-three years has been comparable to that given in many large communities.

1963 Library personnel: Olive McAllister, librarian; Mrs. Louis Dean, substitute librarian: Leigh Smith, student helper; John Watskey, janitor.

The 1963 Board members are: Mrs. James Flynn, president; Mrs. Willis Moore, vice president; Mrs. Herman Rodgers, secretary: Mrs. Sterling Hise, Mrs. Harry Boddy, Mrs. Edgar Myers, Mrs. John Henderson, Mrs. J. O. Haney, and Mrs. Clifford Houser.

Carnegie Libraries History

In 1848, Andrew Carnegie and his family moved to the USA from Scotland. He was 12 years old. It was the middle of the American Industrial Revolution. He immediately found work in a factory and started investing his money. He was eventually able to start his own steel company, and eventually became one of the richest men in the world.

Carnegie decided to use some of his wealth to help others. One of his memories was being able to use a private library when he was working his way up owning his own business. So, he decided to donate $55 million to fund the construction of over 2,500 libraries around the world, between 1883 to 1929.

Carnegie would give grants if local governments could show they:

  • needed a public library;
  • had a site for the building;
  • would pay staff and maintain the library;
  • would use some public funds to run the library;
  • would make sure service was free for everyone.

In the United States of America, Carnegie gave grants to build 1,689 public libraries. As of 2017, about 750 of those are still functioning as libraries. There were two States that never got a Carnegie Library – Delaware and Alaska. The first Carnegie Library in the USA was built in 1889 at Braddock, Pennsylvania, the home of one of Carnegie Steel Company’s mills.

Indiana built 164 Carnegie libraries. California had the second most with 142 Carnegie libraries. Illinois, New York, and Ohio all built 106 libraries each, and Iowa built 101 Carnegie libraries. At the same time, Honea Path, South Carolina – with a population of just 1,765 people – got a Carnegie Library in 1908.

In the 1880s, all libraries were closed-stack: a librarian had to get books from behind a door where the public
didn’t have access. To save money when building libraries, Carnegie created the open-shelf system—which was started in Pittsburgh – where people could take books off the shelves themselves.

The Man Who Loved Libraries: The Story of Andrew Carnegie

Close to 800 of Carnegie’s library buildings are still in use as public libraries, according to Carnegie Libraries Across America, while another 350 have been given new purposes as office buildings and cultural centers. More than 275 have been razed or destroyed—some inadvertently, as in the case of botched renovations performed as Works Progress Administration projects.
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