Tuesday, November 17, 2009

1952 Public Library, Richmond Virginia


First and Franklin Streets.

The Finance Committee of Richmond’s Common Council twice passed up Mr. Andrew Carnegie’s generous offers of financial assistance to establish a public library in Richmond. The first offer, of $100,000, in March 1901, made it as far as the selection of Trustees for the Library, a recommendation for a site for the proposed building and the sum of $22,000 to purchase it. After consideration, the Finance Committee rejected the recommendation. Mayor Carlton McCarthy tried again in 1906, at which time Mr. Carnegie was willing to double his original offer to $200,000. The matter again came to the Finance Committee, where it was “read and ordered to be received and filed.” No further action was taken. Individuals and community leaders in business, education and civic institutions had rallied to the Library, to no avail. They founded the Richmond Public Library Association in 1905 to advocate for a public library in Richmond. Gradually, they built more community support and began to win over public officials. On April 5, 1922, Mr. John Stewart Bryan became president of the Association, and stepped up the campaign for a public library. In June 1922, within 3 days, 10,000 Richmonders signed a petition supporting the establishment of a public library. The Richmond Public Library Association ultimately gathered a total of 50,000 signatures. This time, the wishes of Richmonders prevailed with the Common Council and the Board of Aldermen. [Thanks to the Richmond Public Library, www.richmondpubliclibrary.org]

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