Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish-American industrialist and philanthropist, led the American steel industry in the late 19th century and became one of the richest men in history. Happily, he didn’t keep it all to himself.
Between 1883 and 1929, Carnegie built more than 2500 libraries all over the world, 1689 of them in the US and 59 in Pennsylvania. The first, the Braddock Carnegie Library, is a masterpiece of eclectic medieval style architecture. But, as you’ll see below, Carnegie’s contributions to education are not the only beautiful libraries of note in the Keystone State.
Founded in 1814, the Athenaeum is an independent, member-supported library that collects materials ‘connected with the history and antiquities of America, and the useful arts, and generally to disseminate useful knowledge.’ There’s also a posh reading room where you can plan your next expedition to a far-flung locale.
Since 1929, the B.F. Jones Memorial Library has provided educational programming, workforce development, and cultural enrichment to its community. Plus, chandeliers!
Built in 1889, the Braddock Carnegie Library was the first Carnegie library in the country. It’s a National Historic Landmark and, in addition to books, provides activities including art, puppets, screen printing, ceramics, music classes, and, oh yeah… a basketball court!
Established in 1898, the library now hosts more than 2.9 million visitors every year. In addition to books, the library offers community activities, classes, and author events throughout the year. Don’t miss the frescoes.
Located at the University of Pennsylvania, the Fisher Fine Arts Library collects research materials in art and architecture, the decorative arts, photography, historic preservation, city planning, and urban design. And yes, we would like to read under the dome.
Found at Lehigh University and known as ‘Lindy’ to students, the Linderman Library provides study space and a café alongside books and other research materials. Bonus: It looks like the enchanted library of our dreams.
The Rosenbach offers exhibitions, programs, and tours showcasing rare books, manuscripts, and art; the heart of their collection is Bram Stoker’s original handwritten notes for Dracula. They also offer special events in person and online related to the items in their collection.
Top image courtesy of Erol Ahmed/Unsplash.
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