Carnegie Libraries of Britain Ebook

Click image to open and optionally download Ebook (131 MB)

*Shortlisted for the 2022 Colvin Prize by the Society The Society of Architectural
Historians of Great Britain


“The Carnegie Libraries of Britain is a remarkable feat.  Not only does it collect in one place a comprehensive illustrated catalogue of the all libraries and reading rooms built in the United Kingdom with the financial support of Andrew Carnegie, but it organizes that information in visually compelling ways in order to communicate the chronological and geographic distribution of these understudied buildings.   In the process, it highlights the substantial role that Carnegie’s philanthropic program played in shaping the public sphere in places large and small.  Further, by identifying the palette of materials and building elements used to craft these sometimes simple and often dignified buildings, author Oriel Prizeman provides an important and useful tool for supporting the work of the many people committed to preserving these threatened community spaces.”    

                                     – Abigail A. Van Slyck

Author of Free to All: Carnegie Libraries and American Culture, 1890-1920

“The civilizing, societal role of free public libraries cannot be under-estimated. Since Britain’s Public Libraries Act of 1850, this enduring national institution has provided universal access to information and literature that continue to enrich our lives and preserve our records. But local delivery of these cultural facilities would not have been so widely distributed across the country, or so splendidly furnished, without the extraordinary philanthropy of Scottish-American industrialist Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) whose grants provided more than the 437 surviving Carnegie libraries in 57 years between 1883 and 1940.
This E-book’s scholarly photographic chronicle is complemented by extensive notation and analysis that reveal the breadth and depth of one of the most far-sighted and impactful acts of international charity on these shores, culminating in widely varying architectural forms, from modest sheds to grand Neo-Classical designs. Professor Dr Oriel Prizeman of the Welsh School of Architecture and her collaborators on this fascinating publication are to be congratulated for introducing readers to a less-studied building typology and its special patronage. The work is but one deliverable from the epic Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project, Shelf-Life: reimagining the future of Carnegie Public Libraries that I also commend to all those interested in the past and future of these temples of knowledge.”


Former Conservation Director, English Heritage

(Life Member, Stockport Heritage Trust campaigning to stop closure of Stockport’s Carnegie Library)