‘Carnegie’ visits his library 100 years late
Some excerpts from Doug Mischler's presentation as Andrew Carnegie at the Old Colorado City Branch Library during the
Founders' Day Celebration event Aug. 14…
During Branch Manager Julianne Rist's introduction, she summarized the work that is occurring as part of the restoration of the century-old Carnegie-built library. As an example, she pointed out the narrow boards that have been attached to the ceiling as a temporary control measure. Then, before saying how proud she was to have “Carnegie” on hand, she noted that of the 2,600 libraries Carnegie funded, less than half are still in use.
When Carnegie/ Mischler came to the podium, he drew an immediate laugh from the audience when he said, “I'm not very proud that so many of my libraries are falling down.” Near the end of his talk, he told Rist, “Don't let the roof fall in.”
Mischler represented Carnegie's view that wealthy people have an obligation to give back to society. In so doing, he talked about the criticism that one way of giving back would have been to pay his workers more money. “They'd just go off and spend it at the saloon,” he commented. He also nixed giving to charity, for fear the funds would be misused. Instead, donations from the rich should go to “uplifting” endeavors, he said (much of Carnegie's benevolence was directed at colleges as well as libraries).
Mischler quoted from Carnegie that “every second in a university or library makes a man less of a brute and more of a man.”
Carnegie contributed $10,000 to the construction of the Old Colorado City Library. He added the stipulation that city fathers should ensure that at least $1,000 a year was spent on its upkeep.
According to Mischler's research, Carnegie tried sincerely to follow his credo that “a millionaire should try to give away every penny he's earned.” Unfortun-ately (at least from Carnegie's standpoint), he was making so much money off his interest that even after a decade of giving money away right and left he was no poorer than when he had started his philanthropic endeavors. A foundation using his wealth exists to this day.
After the talk, refreshments were served in the library basement, which was bedecked with photos of the Colorado Carnegies that are still standing. The pictures will remain on display for the next several weeks; the public is welcome to go down there and look at them during working hours.
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