Historic Carnegie Libraries Exhibition on View at UW’s Coe Library

A traveling exhibition that highlights the historic Carnegie libraries of Wyoming will be on display at the University of Wyoming’s Coe Library until Saturday, Sept. 1.

Located on Level 2 of Coe Library, the exhibition features the history of libraries funded by Andrew Carnegie in Wyoming between 1899 and 1919.

A steel baron and one of the wealthiest men in the nation, Carnegie was self-educated at a private library as a boy. His Carnegie Public Library Building Grants funded construction of local libraries in communities that provided building sites and tax revenues for maintenance.

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Linda Waggener, a UW master’s degree candidate in American studies, says that when communities held dedication ceremonies for these libraries, “often the whole town would show up.”

She says it is important to preserve Carnegie libraries.

“These buildings played a big role in the history of the towns and influenced architecture in the West,” she says.

Sixteen Wyoming towns built Carnegie libraries. Of those, only five are still in use as libraries; five were adapted for other uses; and six have been demolished entirely.

For more information on the history of Carnegie libraries, including a map of Wyoming locations, visit www.historicwyoming.org/carnegielibraries/.

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