Carnegie’s philanthropic passion lives on in local library
In homage to philanthropic longevity Hove Library in East Sussex celebrates its centenary this summer.
Bestowed by Andrew Carnegie to the people of Hove in 1908, at a cost of £10,000 - a hefty sum in its day - the library is still housed in the Carnegie Buildings on Church Road.
The use of the Grade II Listed building as a library was under threat several years ago when the local council decided refurbishments were too costly and the library was to be closed.
In a communal enterprise that would have made Carnegie proud, more than 4,000 people joined the campaign group Friends of Hove Library, set up by writer Christopher Hawtree.
Their efforts and strong public and media support ensured that the library was to stay open and received £350,000 of investment.
It could be said Carnegie’s philanthropic foresight continues to support and enhance communities today. His own early education and passion for reading was inspired by Colonel James Anderson of Allegheny, Pennsylvania, who opened his personal library of 400 volumes to working boys each Saturday night.
“Every day's toil and even the long hours of night service were lightened by the book which I carried about with me and read in the intervals that could be snatched from duty. And the future was made bright by the thought that when Saturday came a new volume could be obtained,” wrote Carnegie of Anderson’s influence.
Fitting then that among his many philanthropic efforts were the establishment of public libraries throughout the US, the UK, and other English-speaking countries. Carnegie libraries, as they were commonly called, were built everywhere and he reformed both library philanthropy and library design, encouraging a closer correspondence between the two.
It is felicitous that the fight to save Hove library, and for it to reach a centenary, is founded on such fervent philanthropic roots.