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Andrew Carnegie has a classic rags-to-riches story: an immigrant turned steel magnate who financed the construction of over 2,500 public library buildings worldwide, including 21 in Brooklyn. But, his business and labor policies often hurt the very people his libraries served. As one Carnegie steel worker said in 1900: “After working 12 hours, how can a man go to a library?” We dig into Carnegie’s complicated legacy, with a special appearance from the Bowery Boys!

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Episode Transcript

Krissa Corbett Cavouras Just before 10am on a chilly weekday morning, about a dozen people stand outside a stone building. It’s on 4th Avenue in Sunset Park, and it’s home to Brooklyn’s Community Board 7 as well as a department of the NYPD … and, for the time being, this building is also home to a library.

Sunset Park's interim location on 4th Avenue. (Gregg Richards, Brooklyn Public Library)

Adwoa Adusei In line, there are mothers with strollers, teens are on their phones, everyone’s bundled up against the chill. At 10am on the dot, the doors open and everyone heads inside. Teens and adults make a beeline for the laptops, some go straight for the magazines. 

Krissa Corbett Cavouras By 10:05, people are settled into their days. Jeffrey is a tenth grader, and he heads to one of the tables and pulls out a textbook.

Jeffrey Ever since I started to know about this library, I came here to do my homework … and it really brought up my grades.

Adwoa Adusei Two other patrons, Lisette and her three-year-old son, were seated in the kids’ section, not too far from Jeffrey and our producer walked over to say hello.

Virginia Marshall And, uh … 

Leon This is my mommy. 

Virginia Marshall Oh, hello! What’s your name? 

Leon Leon. 

Virginia Marshall Leon, nice to meet you. I’m Virginia.  

Lisette We just moved here a year ago and I have two little ones, a five-year-old and a three-year-old so we come here probably two times per week. I’m actually in school and the library makes it easy when I have an assignment in my English class. Just last semester, I didn’t have to purchase the books, I could just borrow them.

Krissa Corbett Cavouras Around 10:30, a lot of toddlers and their caregivers start to trickle out of the library’s main room and into this other room that’s sometimes a library space and sometimes a community board meeting room. The staff person has to roll out this big, colorful rug and she’s got a huge container containers of toys, so what was a pretty standard conference room turns into a toddler’s play area.

Storytime Ready? [singing] A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K …

Krissa Corbett Cavouras Diana Abrams is one of the mothers at the story time. she’s also a teacher in the neighborhood. She’s standing back and watching her son play with other kids on the rug.

Diana Abrams I met another parent who had a son who was born on the exact same day as my son. We were going basically every week for about a year, and Spanish isn’t my first language and English wasn’t her first language, but we both knew a little bit so we were able to communicate and have our kids play with each other. And it was really lovely. 

Adwoa Adusei Every week, there’s at least one story time in English, one in Spanish, and one in Mandarin. Sunset Park is one of a handful of Brooklyn neighborhoods where English is not the most commonly spoken language, so interest in multi-lingual storytimes is pretty high.

Roxana Benavides The library itself serves the zipcodes with the largest numbers of immigrants in Brooklyn.

NYC Council Member Carlos Menchaca reads Edward Gets Messy by BPL librarian Rita Meade at Sunset Park's interim library.
(Gregg Richards, Brooklyn Public Library)

Adwoa Adusei This is Roxana Benavides, the head librarian at Sunset Park library, where she’s been for thirteen years. 

Roxana Benavides It’s a place where opportunities are actually within reach. And that’s what we have. But it’s also a place where they’re being empowered, because information is power. For the job placement, for the new immigrant, we are an informal educational center, too. We are also a cultural center, we are also a place you you can just come and relax. We cannot go without a library, a public library in Sunset Park.

Adwoa Adusei As we have seen many times in our system, the local libraries transform into whatever the community needs. Like Roxana said: an education center, a cultural center, a place to pass the time. And, Roxana emphasized another important need in the neighborhood:  

Roxana Benavides Housing, housing, housing is also at the top of their needs that are the priorities in the community.

Krissa Corbett Cavouras Housing is a big deal in Sunset Park. In 2017, one third of renter households in the neighborhood were “severely rent burdened” which means they’re spending more than half of their income on rent. So, the library decided to find a way to address the community’s needs. We mentioned that this library is sharing space with the police department and the community board, but that’s not its permanent home. Sunset Park Library is in this interim space because the branch itself is being rebuilt.

Kristie Maduro For me, it’s the most interesting thing that’s we’ve done from a policy perspective.

Krissa Corbett Cavouras That’s Kristie Maduro, and she’s the person here at BPL in charge of capital finance and real estate for the library. 

Kristie Maduro A not-for-profit developer approached us with a proposal, and 49 units are going to be on top of the library. The library is going to be almost 21,000 square feet which is nearly double. And state of the art, much bigger, it’ll allow the community a lot more flexibility in how it’s used and the way it’s used.

Adwoa Adusei Sunset Park is slated for a huge makeover and construction is already underway. When the new building opens up, it’ll house not only books but also affordable housing units.

Krissa Corbett Cavouras That’s right, Adwoa. It’s a first for New York, to have a library in the same building as new affordable housing units. And, the units will be 30 to 80 percent AMI. Now, if you’re not a New York City housing policy wonk, we will explain, that means that the units will be available for families who make between 30 percent and 80 percent of the area median income for New York City. So, truly affordable. Roxana is excited about it.

Roxana Benevides We were making a joke, actually, and saying, someone might be calling and saying can you please bring me a book … [LAUGHS] Can you please bring me a book about ah … the latest book by Peterson. I’m in apartment number 3B, or something like that. So, We don’t see it as a negative, we see it as something that is going to be positive.


Krissa Corbett Cavouras You know, Roxana is joking about delivering books upstairs to the apartments, but I remember the old Sunset Park branch because that’s been my neighborhood for thirteen years, and I remember walking into that library and realizing it was a single-story branch which is, you know, kind of a waste of vertical space in New York City. It was so crowded. Every table had kids at it, and adults and their parents, and it was just bedlam in the most beautiful possible way. But, I didn’t realize this at the time, but now I know, that new library is in fact going to be the third building on that site. And it’s not the only one of our branches that’s going to be seeing its third iteration. So, the first version of the Sunset Park branch was called the South Branch, and it was a Carnegie and it was built in 1905.

Adwoa Adusei Listeners, you’ve probably heard that name before because Andrew Carnegie funded a ton of institutions that are still operating today: Carnegie Hall and Carnegie Mellon University to name just two. But, one of his biggest investments was in public libraries. Andrew Carnegie funded the construction of about 1,600 library buildings across the United States, and about another thousand all over the world.

Krissa Corbett Cavouras That is a lot of libraries, and a lot of money.

Adwoa Adusei Well, he could afford it. Carnegie was the wealthiest man in the world when he was alive. He made his money in the steel and oil industries, and Krissa, there’s this interesting conversation we need to have when it comes to thinking about Carnegie’s legacy. On the one hand, the money he made built a third of the buildings in our very own system, and for small towns across America, sometimes the only library around is a Carnegie building. On the other hand, however, he created terrible working conditions in his factories. He was famous for driving down wages and increasing hours at many of his many factories and mills. In 1892 he supported Henry Clay Frick’s lockout of unionized workers at his steel mill outside of Pittsburgh, an action that resulted in a brutal conflict with hired militia and state militia. About a dozen men were killed.

Krissa Corbett Cavouras But … we now refer to him as the “father of philanthropy.” You know, what does that mean? And 2,500 libraries around the world were built with his money.

Adwoa Adusei But as one Carnegie steel worker said in 1900: “After working 12 hours, how can a man go to a library?”

Krissa Corbett Cavouras Truth.

Adwoa Adusei I think we said complicated and we meant it.

Krissa Corbett Cavouras I get a feeling that’s what we’re digging into today.

Adwoa Adusei You got it. I’m Adwoa Adusei.

Krissa Corbett Cavouras And I’m Krissa Corbett Cavouras. You’re listening to Borrowed: stories that start at the library. 


Tom Meyers Hello, Adwoa and Krissa! 

Adwoa Adusei Welcome.

Tom Meyers So nice to meet you.

Krissa Corbett Cavouras Hi, welcome. 

Greg Young Nice to be in the library.

Bowery Boys hosts Greg Young and Tom Meyers during an interview at Brownsville Library.
(Virginia Marshall, Brooklyn Public Library)

Krissa Corbett Cavouras So, Adwoa, to dig into this complicated question of Andrew Carnegie and his legacy, we brought in some New York City history experts. 

Adwoa Adusei That’s right. Last week, we met up with Tom Meyers and Greg Young of the Bowery Boys podcast. We invited them to the library where I work, Brownsville Library, because it’s one of those 18 Carnegie libraries that’s still in use in Brooklyn. Greg and Tom told us some really interesting stuff about Carnegie the business man. But before we get into that, for a bit of background: Andrew Carnegie emigrated to Pittsburgh from Scotland with his family when he was thirteen, in 1848. The Carnegies were pretty poor. Andrew, who only had a few years of education in Scotland, went right to work. 

Krissa Corbett Cavouras He fell in love with libraries at an early age when he persuaded his boss to let him take books out of the private library. Fast forward a few decades, and Carnegie became the wealthiest man in the world and had a huge impact on the development of public libraries, free and open to all. For more on that part of the story, we asked the Bowery Boys about the Gilded Age millionaire whose money built a third of the buildings in our library system.

Adwoa Adusei So we’re just going to get right into it. We want to know, how did Andrew Carnegie make his money? 

Tom Meyers How much time do you have?


Adwoa Adusei Nuts and bolts.

Greg Young The short answer is in steel manufacturing.

Tom Meyers He didn’t steal.

Adwoa Adusei I was going to say…

Greg Young No, well … maybe. No, he didn’t steal it, but short answer is in the steel industry. He got his start at the Pennsylvania Railroad, worked his way through that, he was a bond trader. He did all these kinds of things. He was the classic Gilded Age business man in terms of dealing in all of the industries that were driving the growth of America post-Civil War. But the thing to remember about all of that is it was in a world that was really unregulated. So, it’s not just that he’s making this money in all these industries that were legitimate, but all of that money was being made by everyone during this period in ways that we would later see as being unethical and even illegal. 

Krissa Corbett Cavouras So, pivoting to philanthropy, you know, he gave a gift to New York City in 1901 to build 65 library branches, which was the largest library funding gift that he’d made to any city. What do you know about that? What were the terms of the gift? 

Tom Meyers Funny you should ask, Krissa. I just happen to have a print-out from The New York Times of the article, published on March 16, 1901. I go nowhere without, like, archival articles from The New York Times.

Krissa Corbett Cavouras Obviously. 

Tom Meyers The headline is “Mr. Carnegie Offers Five Million, Two Hundred Thousand Dollars to New York to Establish 65 branches of the Public Library: City must provide sites and guarantee the cost of maintenance. Mayor Van Wyck favors the plan.” The terms and conditions in New York were pretty much the same as elsewhere throughout the country and the world. He would give the money for the construction of these libraries, as long as the city and that is to say the voters, the taxpayers, would provide the land and also fund the operation, buy the books. And, that’s what he did throughout the country and really throughout the English-speaking world with this enormous gift.

Krissa Corbett Cavouras So, this is a little bit of an up-the-anti with the cities, right? How did the cities respond? How did New York respond? 

Tom Meyers: Right, well many cities already had their own library systems in place that were often struggling. And he had been doing this for a number of years. And the city, it wasn’t just an easy yes from the city; there was a counter here. There were people saying look, we’re struggling to pay for roads, we’re struggling to pay for schools. Then on top of this, here comes a very good-intentioned, you know, gazillionaire, saying you know, I will give you this 5.2 million dollars to do this, to set up all of these buildings that will then have to be maintained and run? That’s a huge operational expense as well. So, there are a lot of people saying, we simply don’t have the money. However, I will say, although this is a debate, the very next day’s Times has an article entitled: “City Will Accept Mr. Carnegie’s Libraries.” So, like, yeah there was a raging debate, but at least the next day’s paper pretty much foreshadowed what would happen. 

Young patrons using Brownsville Library, a Carnegie branch, in the first few years of its opening.
(Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Collection)

Krissa Corbett Cavouras This is the perfect lead-in because, genuinely, Carnegie’s money, Carnegie’s legacy didn’t necessarily have anything to do with libraries … so why did he spend all this time and effort bribing somewhat reluctant or even just over-taxed and out-of-bandwidth cities to build libraries specifically? 

Tom Meyers Well, can I just jump in here? Because you said that he made millions of dollars … he amassed a huge, huge fortune. People hadn’t made that kind of money. This was also a new era of immigration in the city, but also was a new era of extreme wealth. And Carnegie was different in that he was one of the first to believe that those who had accrued that kind of wealth also had a responsibility to give it away. And, he was also a person who believed in the individual’s ability to succeed, this very strictly American ideal. And he credited books that he had read from a private library in his youth, back in Pennsylvania for being sort of that inspiration that led to him becoming a better person, developing his character, and eventually becoming extremely wealthy. 

Adwoa Adusei Since so much of Carnegie’s legacy is about his personal story, that arc that you just described, how should we feel about these buildings? Because they are funded by him, alone, but his business policies were so directly hurtful to those people who he wanted to better.

Greg Young Yeah. Well, what’s interesting is, this is kind of an issue we’re still dealing with. A lot of our major cultural institutions are associated with, are funded largely by people that we may think are doing harm to our world today. What’s specific with people from the Gilded Age is the idea that business practices were wildly unethical compared to what we would view them with today. 

Krissa Corbett Cavouras And labor practices, right? 

Greg Young Oh and labor practices especially. The relationship between Carnegie and Henry Frick for instance, terrible … you look at that and it seems like it’s counter to his whole mission of what the library is, right? So it is a little bit hard to wrap our head around. What I can only say is we should look at these gifts, evaluate his legacy appropriately, and where those gifts fell in the place of his legacy, and then try to improve the world using the spaces that he gave us over 120 years ago.

Tom Meyers I also think it’s interesting, specific to labor because that seems to be a major sticking point with Carnegie. Like, well look at how, you know, he was anti-union. what’s ironic is like more than 1,000 libraries, 1,600 libraries, however many libraries are constructed with his money in towns around the country, cities around the country, that benefitted greatly that they did help out, they part of the social fabric, right up there with schools, churches, social organizations … they were an integral part of those communities and helped people integrate into American society and ultimately succeed and actually, like, the town that I grew up in, Bellevue, Ohio, with its Carnegie library was for much of the 20th century a very staunch union town. It developed because of unions and because of the railroad. So, there was throughout the 20th century a union-rich community that was benefitting from this gift, and I don’t think anybody was asking if they should give that money back, you know. So, in fact today we ask that question because in this example I think unions are so much weaker. We’ve actually lost out, and maybe what we need to do is hold more programming and talks on that topic in Carnegie libraries. 

Children sitting on the steps of Brownsville Library in 1910.
(Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Collection)

Krissa Corbett Cavouras Greg and Tom, thank you so much for joining us. Our listeners should go and listen to The Bowery Boys episode 308 to get an even deeper dive on our problematic fave Andrew Carnegie. 

Greg Young Yes, a companion show to this one. We are very grateful to join you, and we thank you very much for inviting us here to speak about libraries. 

Krissa Corbett Cavouras And the Bowery Boys episode 308 is out today.

Tom Meyers Thanks for having us. 

Listen to the Bowery Boys companion show on Andrew Carnegie! You can subscribe to their podcast or listen to it straight from here:

Krissa Corbett Cavouras it was so much fun getting to talk to The Bowery Boys. And really, I think their insight into the Gilded Age, and Carnegie’s decision to specifically fund libraries, it puts these buildings into perspective for me. But, meanwhile, you, Adwoa, have a very different relationship with Carnegie buildings. Because, while we’ve been talking about a lot of big ideas and history, you interact with Carnegie’s legacy in a visceral way, every day.

Adwoa Adusei That’s right. 

Krissa Corbett Cavouras Since I’ve never worked in a public library branch, much less one of our august Carnegies, tell me, what’s it like to work there every day?

Adwoa Adusei Well, I remember the first time that I went to the branch, I thought I was really lucky, I’d hit the jackpot. And in time I realized that there are some issues with working in an old building … basically it’s about issues of noise. Sound travels really easily from one room to the next because there are so many hard surfaces. And we have these massive, noisy fans that are on all the time in the summer and sometimes in the winter, too, so that heat gets dispersed evenly. Temperature is just a big issue in the building. And the space is just not easy to navigate if you have a wheelchair or stroller. At the same time, it’s just really beautiful, and that kind of overshadows everything else.

Krissa Corbett Cavouras And, you know, it was meant to stand out when the buildings first went up. In Brooklyn, a lot of these Carnegies are free-standing edifices. You have to walk up a set of stairs to get into the building, and then inside is usually one big, airy room. Originally, that room was supposed to be a quiet space, right? It was thought that the working person could come here and pick up a book, and better themselves by reading. 

Adwoa Adusei We actually have the perfect illustration of that … we have a recording from long-time Sunset Park resident Ada Lydon who remembers going to that first Carnegie branch as a kid. So this would have been before 1970, when that branch was torn down. This is from our local oral history archive, called “Our Streets, Our Stories.”

Ada Lydon First of all all the woodwork was, like in an old mansion, you know: carved wood, highly polished. Probably a janitor going around polishing up the brass. Even in the children’s section, big long wooden tables. It was also, like, very quiet. If you spoke any louder than softly you were reprimanded, I mean as a child. I’m sure adults kept quiet to begin with. Children were not allowed even to step into the adult section.

Krissa Corbett Cavouras Lots of rules in those early Carnegie branches! 

Adwoa Adusei Yeah, at Brownsville, we definitely no longer have a silent section. And it’s interesting to think about that change in attitude. Because while public libraries have always been intended to serve the common person, how we go about helping and providing services for that patron is really different. 

Krissa Corbett Cavouras And the communities that these old buildings serve are changing, too. I mean, there isn’t a single neighborhood that hasn’t shifted three or more times since these buildings went up 100 years ago.

Adwoa Adusei That’s very true, Krissa. So, when Brownsville first opened, the neighborhood was over 90 percent Russian Jewish and the library itself was extremely popular. The first day it opened, in 1908, 3,000 books circulated from the building. I mean, we should be so lucky to have that today. Now the population of Brownsville looks a little different. It’s 95 percent black and Hispanic. And, the neighborhood is also home to the country’s highest concentration of public housing.

Patrons using Brownsville Library in 1963.
(Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Collection)

Krissa Corbett Cavouras Okay, that’s a fun fact, but what does it actually mean day-to-day for the library and the neighborhood? 

Adwoa Adusei What that actually means is that it’s incredibly densely populated. I mentioned that the library is really architecturally impressive, but that impressiveness gets dwarfed by the neighborhood’s large apartment complexes. Those buildings are part of the NYCHA complex, which means they are run by the New York City Housing Authority. They’re usually plain red brick and extremely tall. So that majesty of the Carnegie branch gets a little bit lost, making the branch incredibly difficult to find.

Krissa Corbett Cavouras Speaking of architecture, we found a report from 1901 written by ADF Hamlin, the consulting architect for Brooklyn’s original Carnegie branches, and he wrote about these guiding ideals for how each branch should look. He said they should be “public monuments” and have dignity and elegance so that their style would “endure for long periods of time.”

Adwoa Adusei And, Krissa, technically the buildings have endured … and sometimes that challenges us. The library doesn’t adapt to the changing times, we really have to adapt to the space. We have to add in wheelchair ramps, outlets and HVAC systems. It can make the interior space a little haphazard. I have another interesting quote for you, and it’s from that same report you mentioned, from the consulting architect, Hamlin, he writes about how the design for each individual neighborhood branch should be decided, and recommends that: “Private and local preferences must not interfere with the higher interests of the enterprise”

Krissa Corbett Cavouras Wow, that’s interesting … local preferences. That’s something that’s changed! It’s one of our biggest goals with constructing new branches is specifically to have input from the community.

Adwoa Adusei And we’re making a lot of changes in the next several years. Thirteen of our branches, including my own Brownvsille Library will see major renovations. We’ve been running public feedback sessions and really trying to find out what particular neighborhoods need from their branches.

Krissa Corbett Cavouras That’s right. And, one of our most exciting projects is yet another renovation of a former Carnegie branch. The brand new Greenpoint Library will open in early Spring, and it’s not going to be like any library you’ve seen before. 

The first Greenpoint Library, a Carnegie building, shortly after opening in 1905.
(Brooklyn Public Library, Brookyln Collection)

Ames O’Neill The building will have a lot of sustainable, environmentally friendly features, including all LED lights, high efficiency HVAC system, solar panels on the roof. It will have a rainwater collection system, with a cistern and hand pump to water the gardens. 

Krissa Corbett Cavouras A rainwater collection system in a library. That sounds more like a farm than a library.

Adwoa Adusei And it sort of is! Greenpoint is going to get an Environmental Education Center and a library, all in one. I’ll let Ames explain from here. Ames O’Neill is a project manager in strategic planning at Brooklyn Public Library, and she’s been working on this library construction project for several years.

Ames O'Neill Well, way back in the day it was originally a Carnegie branch. So, from pictures at least, I can tell it was a beautiful library, but unfortunately, it was fell into some disrepair, we hear, and was torn down in 1970. And then they built instead just a small, one-story structure where it used to be, and that was the one that I knew. And it was very utilitarian, I would say.

Krissa Corbett Cavouras Utilitarian, indeed … Much like the Sunset Park Library that I first got to know, Greenpoint’s branch from the 1970s onward was small. It was one room without a lot of natural light. That second Greenpoint library branch was something we affectionately call a “Lindsay Box” named for the period of construction in the 1960s and 70s during the time that John Lindsay was mayor of New York City. And, a funny thing happened when it was decided that the library would be rebuilt into this fantastic, environmentally friendly building … they tore down that old Lindsay Box…

Ames O'Neill And that was when we ran into the old foundation of the original Carnegie building. And that was a big surprise. We had always maybe suspected that they had left that behind when they built the Lindsay Box, but no one was sure. And it was very unpleasant surprise because not only was it the basement and foundation of the Carnegie building, but it was all of the piping lined with asbestos that was all around, and that we had to stop work and remediate. Andrew Carnegie haunted us. He was mad that we had torn down his building. 

Adwoa Adusei Okay, so maybe Carnegie wasn’t haunting BPL, but we had to wonder. Because the building that will be up in place of Carnegie’s original 1905 Greenpoint branch is going to be so very different. For one thing, it’s exactly what the community is asking for.

Krissa Corbett Cavouras That’s right. Greenpoint has a long history of pollution. There was a massive oil leak from one of the refineries on the waterfront that was discovered in the late 1970s. Newtown Creek was declared a superfund site. There’s been a lot of grassroots environmental activism, and questions about water testing and lead testing … and there wasn’t really a centralized location for that. So, the library seemed like a perfect place for those interests to come together. And, actually, we have a whole episode about Greenpoint’s environmental history and how the library got involved in the process to save the stories of Greenpoint. That’s season one, episode two of Borrowed.

Adwoa Adusei So this new building is going to have a science lab for demonstrations, an outdoor reading garden, solar panels that will generate about ten percent of the building’s power and information up everywhere about environmental conservation and activism.

Krissa Corbett Cavouras And, we did ask Ames what she thought Carnegie would think about this new building.

Ames O'Neill I’m not sure if he would be appalled with how much we’ve changed or inspired by how much we’ve changed to fit the community’s needs. Because, even though it’s not what he imagined, we’re still serving the public in much the same way or I would argue a better way then he did back then.

The new Greenpoint Library and Environmental Education Center, opening in Spring 2020.
(Rendering by Marble Fairbanks)

Adwoa Adusei You know, Krissa, I don’t know if you remember this, but when we were talking with Greg and Tom about what Andrew Carnegie might think about how his buildings are being renovated today, Tom brought up an interesting point made by historian David Nasaw, who wrote a biography on Andrew Carnegie. He pointed out that Andrew Carnegie was not a preservationist… but instead, he would have wanted the buildings that go up in place of the grand, neo-classical structures to be equally elegant and inspiring.

Krissa Corbett Cavouras And useful, you know, to what we need now. And I think we’ve achieved that with our Greenpoint environmental center and library. But, don’t take my word for it. Head to Greenpoint, Brooklyn this Spring, and see for yourself.

Adwoa Adusei And, before we wrap up the episode, we wanted to leave you with a few book recommendations. Joining us now with a BookMatch list to accompany this episode is librarian John Leighton, who also happens to work in one of BPL’s Carnegie buildings, our Carroll Gardens branch. Hi, John.

John Leighton Hi.

Adwoa Adusei So we’ve just spent the episode talking about Andrew Carnegie’s complicated legacy, and you’ve put together a list of books on that very topic. So what’s the first one that you have for us? 

John Leighton The first book is called Carnegie by Peter Krass, it came out in 2003. It’s a colorful biography that fleshes out the historical details, and Peter covers a lot of the very famous episodes that Carnegie had, such as using his boss’s personal library, which he had to argue his way into at one point. And it also covers the contrast in his life of being a great industrialist and on the other side of that is who and what did he exploit to become that? But at the same time he recognized that legacy. And he said: “He who dies rich dies disgraced,” and he gave away 90 percent of his income.

The next book that I chose is Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson. Now, Sherwood Anderson is not a well known author, really, anymore. But this book is a document of small town pre-industrial life. It’s a collection of short stories and each short story focuses on one of these characters, a grotesque. And it’s told through the eyes of a teenage boy, George Willard who was a newspaper man and who eventually moves away from the town at the end of the novel.

Adwoa Adusei Thank you so much, John. So listeners, that was Carnegie by Peter Krass and Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson. We’ve put a link to the complete BookMatch list on our website, B-K-L-Y-N Library [dot] org [slash] podcasts. That list includes these titles and a few more that John selected especially for this episode. And, you can check them all out right here at the Brooklyn Public Library. Thanks again, John.

John Leighton Absolutely, thanks.

Krissa Corbett Cavouras Borrowed is brought to you by Brooklyn Public Library and is hosted by me, Krissa Corbett Cavouras and Adwoa Adusei. You can find a transcript of this episode at our website and a link to the companion Bowery Boys episode on Andrew Carnegie, where you can hear a whole lot more about Carnegie’s time in New York City, and a special appearance by Adwoa and me.

Adwoa Adusei Borrowed is produced and written by Virginia Marshall, with help from Fritzi Bodenheimer, Jennifer Proffitt, Meryl Friedman and Robin Lester Kenton. Our music composer is Billy Libby.  

Krissa Corbett Cavouras We are recording from Central Library’s Information Commons Recording studio. And guess what, if you have a BPL library card, you can reserve time here too and make your own podcast. Borrowed will be back in two weeks. But you can still come see us live at the Brooklyn podcast festival. That’s this Sunday, January 26 at 5pm at Union Hall. It’s our very first live show. We’ll be talking about books and we’ll be doing BookMatch live, so you won’t want to miss it.

Adwoa Adusei Thanks for listening!

Krissa Corbett Cavouras Until next time, future philanthropists!


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