Library History

“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.”

Walt Disney (1901-1966)
American Film Producer, Director, Screenwriter, Animator, and Entrepreneur

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The Carnegie Library Then

The Port Townsend Public Library was established in 1898 by a group of “leading community ladies.” By 1913 they had acquired the land, secured City funding, and received a grant from the Carnegie Library Foundation to construct a new building in keeping with Carnegie architectural design standards of the period. The Port Townsend Carnegie Library served its community so well that a 4,500 square foot addition was completed in 1990 to accommodate the high volume of use that continues to increase significantly each year.

The Carnegie Library Now

Art John Earl CARNEGIE AT DUSK 16x10 and 11x14

Since 2014, renovation and improvement of the interior of the Carnegie Building and the 1990 addition has been ongoing.  The Foundation marshaled its resources to acquire new stacks and shelving, new furnishings, new technology that created a computer center and enhanced the ability of the Library staff to use of the Carnegie Building’s iconic upstairs Reading Room for large public meetings and presentations.  The entire space was further improved by replacing utilitarian light fixtures with new fixtures consistent with the historical building.  The Foundation has also funded the installation of mechanically assisted doors to help any patrons requiring extra help, and replaced all of the signage.  These changes were made possible with the help of generous local donors, grants from Gray Wolf Foundation and the McEachern Foundation, as well as the contribution by the City of Port Townsend of new paint and carpeting throughout.

About Andrew Carnegie

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Andrew Carnegie was a self-made man who, in the later part of his life, created a foundation to give his money away to what he deemed were worthwhile causes. A primary focus of his philanthropy was the building of libraries. He looked for communities that were already helping themselves and willing to maintain continued support for a library building. Between 1886-1896 Carnegie gave away money for fourteen buildings in six communities in the United States. Carnegie’s personal secretary, James Bertram sent out questionnaires to the communities that wished to apply. Detailed communications began between the Foundation and selected communities. The Foundation provided funds for the construction of a building, while it was up to the individual community to provide books, services, and a pledge to commit to ongoing maintenance.

Pam McCollum Clise, Peninsula Daily News, April 24, 2008