Carnegie Libraries

11031040_10206829525807497_6299490668037490125_oLast week, as I often do, I drove from Chico, CA to Monterey, CA.  I am accustomed to this 4.5 hour drive, as my father lives in Monterey.  As I mentioned in a previous post about elderly parents, my father needs a lot of help.  I won’t go into specifics here, but he is becoming less and less independent as the months go by.  Anyways, the route I usually drive takes me through the rice fields of the northern end of the Sacramento Valley.  It is really a beautiful area; an especially rural area of Northern California, filled with rice fields, dairy farms, orchards, a few houses, and lots of farm animals.  Right now, the rice fields are full of water and the area feels as if you are driving through Southeast Asia.

Along the way, I decided to stop at a little library in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by agricultural fields.  I have driven by this library hundreds of times and never stopped.  The library is called The Bayliss Public Library.  On the front of the library, there is a sign stating that the library is “a point of historical interest.”  A library, in the middle of rice fields-a point of historical interest?  On the other side of the door there is another sign, explaining that this particular library is a “Carnegie Library.”  The library was built with funds donated by Andrew Carnegie.  The name is quite well known throughout the United States;  it is attached to famous buildings, schools, and libraries.


Andrew Carnegie was born to a poor Scottish family in 1835.  He immigrated, with his parents, to the United States in 1848.  By 1861, he was a wealthy steel tycoon.  In 1901, he sold his steel company for $480 million dollars; this sale made him the richest man in the world.  Carnegie decided to give all of his money away through philanthropic projects; he invested his fortune in education and science research, global peace, museums, and……libraries.

Between 1883 and 1929, Andrew Carnegie donated the funds to build a total of 2,509 libraries in 11 different countries; 1689 libraries were built in the United States.  California was home to 142 of these libraries.  Today, 85 of these library buildings are still standing, and only 36 are still being used as a library.

So this leads me back to the little library standing out in the middle of agricultural fields – The Bayliss Public Library.  This particular library is the most rural of the Carnegie libraries built in California.  It was built in 1917 for $4 thousand dollars.  It is only open on Tuesdays from 10-6.  So, if you ever find yourself driving on Bayliss-Blue Gum Road, stop by on a Tuesday and check it out!

For further reading about Andrew Carnegie and his libraries, follow the links below:

Carnegie Libraries of California

Carnegie Library

How Andrew Carnegie Turned His Fortune into a Library Legacy