Carnegie Helped Create Waukegan's First Library

Article excerpt

Byline: Diana Dretske

The first publicly supported municipal library in the United States was the Boston Public Library, established in 1848. Many communities, including Waukegan, had "reading rooms" and library associations beginning as early as 1845, but an actual public library was only a dream.

Waukegan residents worked for years to establish a public library, and it finally came in 1903 with a generous donation from Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919), one of America's most successful businessmen.

Andrew Carnegie was born in 1835, the son of a weaver, in Dunfermline, Scotland. The family immigrated to the United States in 1848, settling in Allegheny, Pa. Carnegie worked at a cotton mill, Western Union and the Pennsylvania Railroad before beginning his own business in 1865 - the Carnegie Steel Company. Through his shrewd and often criticized business practices, Carnegie became the world's wealthiest man.

He was convinced that education was life's key and that people should have access to information for self-education. In this regard, he established the first Carnegie Library in his hometown in Scotland in 1881. The first Carnegie Library in the United States was built in Braddock, Pa. in 1889. In all, Carnegie would provide the funds to build about 1,900 public libraries in the United States and over 2,800 worldwide. …