A Spring in the Desert


How do you stimulate education, creativity, and innovative thinking across an entire nation? In the 1880s, in a country just emerging from the destruction of the Civil War, one answer was to build a network of libraries to deliver the latest knowledge across great distances to a disconnected population. Much of that network was constructed with the largesse of Andrew Carnegie; from 1883 to 1929, Carnegie donated funds to construct 2,509 libraries around the world, 1,681 of them in the United States. By the end of the project, Carnegie Libraries formed over 50 percent of the library network of this country.