The Tampa-Hillsborough Library system is having their Centennial Celebration this year and every library has a life-sized poster of Andrew Carnegie greeting visitors. It is appropriate since two of Carnegie’s ten Florida city libraries are in Tampa.
In fact, this is near the 100th anniversary of the opening of the West Tampa Library (still in use), in the center of Tampa’s second cigar factory community. I have checked out books here and in the old Tampa Library on 7th Avenue and Tampa.
Still standing is the Jacksonville Old Free Public Library (1902), Bradenton Carnegie (1917), and Palmetto (1914) – the latter two I have visited as resources for research and museum materials. Carnegie would be pleased that even when newer and bigger libraries are built that his originals still have academic use.
Carnegie was very concerned about African-American education and on Tallahassee’s highest hill stands the Florida A&M Carnegie Library (1905), now the Southeastern Regional Black Archives and Research Center (see photo). Carnegie library buildings are still part of the campus life at Rollins College (1905) and Stetson University (Sampson Hall 1906).
When it came to libraries, Mr. Carnegie built 3,500 libraries across the land and in such exotic spots as Serbia, Fiji, and Mauritius.