Join me Tuesday for a Talk about Carnegie Libraries in Saint Paul

Last year I wrote an article for Minnpost on the history of Carnegie libraries in the city. Together with the Friends of the Saint Paul Libraries foundation and the East Side Freedom Library, I'll be giving a short talk about the three Carnegie libraries in Saint Paul, sharing what I learned and my perspective about how their different fates were shaped by their neighborhoods. It's fascinating to see how those differences have emerged over the last century.

The event is at the Saint Anthony Park library on Como and Carter, in the northwest corner of Saint Paul.

  • When: Tomorrow, Tuesday the 16th from 7 to 8:30
  • Where: St Anthony Park library
  • What: History of the Carnegie libraries in Saint Paul with me, Billie Young, and Greg Gaut.  
  • Free!

Here's a brief excerpt from my article:
Next year, St. Paul’s three Carnegie libraries will be 100 years old. I used to think they were all identical, which only points to how unobservant I can sometimes be, but in fact, each of the three buildings had subtle architectural differences, contrasting cornices or particular pediments. And for 100 years, each of the three libraries served neighborhoods on the far corners of the city, welcoming generations of curiosity seekers.
But that was then, and today, each building has diverged from its original footprint in surprising ways. As library needs have changed over the years, the three Carnegie buildings now have unique fates that reflect the diversity of the city around them.
To me, the unusual fate of the east side building reveals how deeply ideas about information, community, and architecture have shifted in the century since Carnegie originally built the buildings. Originally, libraries had a rarified air that reflected a kind of purity, and they were often intended to be used by adults. Today, libraries have become much more democratized, multifaceted, and younger. And the divergent fates of St. Paul’s original three buildings show how complex and rich the idea of a library can become.

See you there!

[East Side, Saint Paul.]

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