Major Milestone:

Public Library Service to Return to the  

Carnegie Library in Newnan, Georgia



I was so pleased to learn that the historic Carnegie Library building, in Newnan, Georgia, would return to its original purpose of providing public library service to the residents of that community. I understand that this structure first served the community as a public library from 1904 through 1987. The return of public library service to the Newnan Carnegie Library building is not only a wonderful development for the community, but would also be a major milestone in the history of Carnegie Libraries!


From 1881 to 1917 Andrew Carnegie (and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, beginning in 1911) provided 2,509 public library buildings throughout the English-speaking world. Regrettably, over the years some of these buildings have been demolished (a few of these by natural or fire tragedies). Many more have been converted to other uses. And, so this also happened with the Newnan Carnegie Library, which was used as court house annex for many years.


However, the decision of the town fathers to return the Newnan Carnegie Library building to public library service is historic. Not only will the Newnan Carnegie Library be the oldest Carnegie Library in the state of Georgia, it will also be the first Carnegie Library building in the history of Carnegie Libraries to, after many years as use as public library, be converted to another purpose, and then many years later to converted back to use as a public library!


Upon the original closure of the Newnan Carnegie Library in 1987, library service was provided by a larger regional library about three miles from the center of town. Not only will the reopening of the Newnan Carnegie Library serve as a good supplement to the regional library service, the Carnegie Library will provide greater accessibility to people living in the center of the city, particularly children, senior citizens, and disabled people, who would have greater difficulty accessing the regional library. Further, I understand that the Carnegie Library will be close to several schools, including seven pre-school facilities.


Andrew Carnegie grew-up in a poor immigrant family in the late 1840s in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, now the North Side of Pittsburgh. His family did not have money to purchase books and public libraries were unknown at that time. Then, Col. James Anderson, a wealthy iron industrialist allowed the children of Allegheny City to use his personal 400-volume library each Saturday afternoon. Col. Anderson then established Allegheny City’s first public library. Andrew Carnegie, an avid reader, poured through the books in these libraries.


From this very modest beginning, Andrew Carnegie forged his way in the business world to become one of the leading industrialists of the Industrial Age. And, when he sold his interests in the Carnegie Steel Company in 1901 (which brought about the first billion-dollar company, the U.S. Steel Corporation), he immediately became the richest man in the world! Andrew Carnegie’s formal education had been meager, and he always credited his self-education through reading for his success.


Andrew Carnegie’s purpose of giving libraries was to provide others with the same opportunity to improve themselves that he had. And, he strongly felt that one large library per city was not enough; He believed neighborhood libraries were very important, as this was how the library could really become accessible to the people. Although he was not the first to construct neighborhood libraries, Andrew Carnegie was the first person to greatly promote neighborhood libraries, with the construction of hundreds of neighborhood library buildings throughout the country, in addition to the large central libraries in many cities.








Carnegie Library Service to Return to Newnan GA           2007 October 9           Page 2 of 2




I greatly applaud and commend the public officials and civic leaders of Newnan, including the very active Friends of the Carnegie organization, for their foresight and commitment of resources in returning public library service to the grand Carnegie Library building on the Newnan town square.




2007 October 9


Glenn A. Walsh

P.O. Box 1041

Pittsburgh PA 15230-1041 U.S.A.

Telephone: 412-561-7876

Electronic Mail: < >

Internet Web Site – History of Andrew Carnegie and Carnegie Libraries:

< >

Former Life Trustee on Board of Trustees, Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall, Carnegie, Pennsylvania