Vryheid Carnegie Library 1908

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Vryheid Historical Buildings

Vryheid Carnegie Library  N-W  Landdros – Markstraat Vryheid

Die Gebou is opgerig in 1908-1909 as die eerste openbare Bibilioteek in Vryheid. Die plan van die argitek Oscar Adolph Rau is geoedgekeur en die bouaannemer was Johannes Lourentz Mouritzen. Die bedrag van £1,262.14.6 wat die koste van die gebou gedek het is voorsien deur die Andrew Carnegie Trust van New York. Op 30 Sept 1909 word die bibiloteek amptelik ge-open deur die voorsitter van die Dorpsraad J O Player. Dit dien as die dorp se bibilioteek tot 1976. Dit is in in Junie 1981 as ‘n Nasionale Gedenkwaardigheid geproklameer en word tans benut deur die munisipaliteit as  die Vryheid Toerisme inligtings sentrum

Built in 1908, with $7,300 donated in Oct 1906  by Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.It was restored in 1984. Today it houses the Tourist Info Office. The woodwork of this building is imported Oregon pine. Provincial Heritage Site  Gazette 7632 : Friday, June 26, 1981  Notice: 1307Archive Status:   National monument Deeds: T27272/1984 Diagram: G7229/908 Description: The property with the Carnegie Library building thereon, at Vryheid, Natal. Significance: This imposing Edwardian building was erected in 1908 with funds granted by the Carnegie Trust. The land on which the building stands was a gift from the Vryheid Town Council. The property together with the Carnegie Library building thereon, situate in the Township of Vryheid, Natal, including subdivision Carnegie Public Library Site of Erf 124 (now known as Portion 1 of Erf 124 Vryheid)

(Article John Carnegie Photos Louis Scheepers)   Andrew Carnegie’s money built A total of 2,509 word wide between from 1883 to 1929  and 14 of these libraries were in Africa and 12 in South Africa. They were  Harrismith (1907), Hopetown (1908), Vryheid (1906) Muizenberg (1909), Barberton (1911), Moorreesburg (1911), Standerton (1911) Potchefstroom (1912), Benoni (1913), Newcastle (1913), Germiston (1915), Krugersdorp (1917),). The dates are when the grants were approved,The Towns as the recipient of a library grant, had to:

  1. Demonstrate the need for a public library;
  2. Provide the building site;
  3. Undertake annually to provide ten percent of the cost of the library’s construction to support its operation; and,
  4. Make the library service free to all.

Andrew Carnegie had grown up incredibly poor, even by the standars of the time in Scotland.He was born in 1835 in a one-room cottage, His father, William, was a weaver, and in 1848 he moved the family to Pennsylvania in the USA. Andrew’s first job, aged 13, was changing spools of thread in a cotton mill,12 hours a day, six days a week, at $1.20 per week.When he retired in 1901,  53 years later, he sold his business interests in steel for $225,639,000, which in 2014 terms amounts to around $6.4 billion.He is reported to have given away around 90% of his wealth “with special emphasis on local libraries, world peace, education and scientific research.” Among other things, he built Carnegie Hall in New York, and founded the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Carnegie Institution for Science, Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, Carnegie Hero Fund, Carnegie Mellon University and the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh.  And it was part of Andrew’s library formula that allowed the public for the first time to have access to the books they were to borrow. Up until then, lending libraries had what was called a “closed stacks” policy.  Patrons could not browse through the books available, The stacks of books were closed to the public

Andrew Carnegie changed all that. He created what was for the time a revolutionary concept of open shelves and self service for the reader. It wasn’t solely for the benefit of the public as much as it was cost-saving Andrew Carnegie died in August 1919 in Massachusetts