Leader comment: Protecting Carnegie’s legacy

Scottish philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, who made his fortune in the United States steel industry, established public libraries across his home country.
Scottish philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, who made his fortune in the United States steel industry, established public libraries across his home country.
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The welcome trans-formation of the first public library funded by Scottish-American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in his native Dunfermline is bound to attract visitors and publicity.

It should also act as a reminder of the libraries we have in our midst which are under threat from council budget cuts.

Carnegie’s libraries have not only provided books for generations to borrow, they have also given people access to materials they needed to study for courses and apply for jobs. Nowadays this includes access to computers and training, professional journals, talks and a host of activities for children.

Such libraries have also been built across the world including three “front-line” libraries in Belgrade, Rheims and Leuven after the First World War.

It would be a crying shame to forget how our libraries came about, and take them for granted. Once closed, they are gone and it is highly unlikely there will ever again be a philanthropist like Carnegie donating such gifts to the public.

Everyone needs to understand the true value of Carnegie’s legacy.