Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Carnegie's World War I Libraries

First camp library completed with Carnegie funds 
Interior of Camp Johnston, FL Library
When the American Library Association assumed a major responsibility for providing reading matter for U.S. armed forces during World War I through its Library War Service, it applied to the Carnegie Corporation for funding to build camp libraries. On September 14, 1917 the Carnegie Corporation approved a grant for $320,000 to build thirty-two camp libraries.  The cost of each building could not exceed $10,000. The buildings based on a uniform plan were designed without charge by noted New York architect Edward L. Tilton.  The single story buildings were originally designed to be 120 feet long and 40 feet wide although costs later required a reduction in size.  Seating was provided for 225 library users and shelving for 14,000 volumes. A room was set aside for living space for the librarian. Eventually, the Carnegie funding actually provided for thirty-six camp libraries. ALA came up with funding from other sources for four more for a total of forty camp library buildings. The first camp library was opened at Camp Lewis, Washington on November 28, 1917. Most of the others were completed by February 1918. Sadly, there is only one surviving ALA camp library building and it has been significantly modified. It is the Camp Sherman library building in Chillicothe, Ohio. Other posts on this blog about ALA's Library War Service can be found HERE. More ALA camp library postcards can be found HERE. An architectural biography of Edward L. Tilton can be found HERE (large pdf file). The primary source for information in this post is Books for Sammies: The American Library Association and World War I by Arthur P. Young (Beta Phi Mu, 1981).

No comments: