12 January 2020
Signatures: 3,536Next Goal: 5,000
Support now

Why this petition matters

Started by TYE FORDE


We understand that the Library is under threat as a result of Government cuts so we are mounting a full scale campaign along with other local groups to ensure that the Library building and its use is preserved and protected. Please support us in any way you can. We will post more details as issues arise. At the moment we have a Petition to sign and will be campaigning outside the library regularly.

Historical Background

Andrew Carnegie was a Scottish born American steel magnate, who in his later life devoted his time and money to philanthropy, which included the building of public libraries. Here in Erdington we are fortunate to have benefitted from his generosity for 113 years - and still counting.

In this digital age where information can be accessed at the click of a mouse - as demonstrated by our quotation below, the physical building and the treasures inside, including its archive which we are in the process of cataloguing, are still of huge benefit to our community. It is the closest we have to a community centre and the Community Room is fully booked every week.

You can read more about Andrew Carnegie and the importance of his legacy here:

Also, the following from Wikipedia gives more detail on UK libraries, including Erdington:

"The first Carnegie library to be built was in Scotland, which was Dunfermline Carnegie Library, Carnegie's birthplace. The English Carnegie libraries began to be built at the beginning of the 20th century. Carnegie, who in his retirement divided his time between the US and Scotland, opened some British libraries personally.

In Britain the process of applying for a Carnegie library was broadly similar to that in the US. It was adapted to British legislation, e.g. the Public Libraries Act, which permitted expenditure from the rates on local libraries. Carnegie assessed applications using criteria which favoured poorer towns, but applicants had to undertake to support their library, providing it with books etc. from the rates. While most towns were very grateful to receive a grant, Carnegie's project was not without controversy. For example, some people objected to the way in which he had made his money. In the case of Stratford-on-Avon there were objections to the proposed building for conservation reasons, and this resulted in a library which blends into the half-timbered neighbouring buildings.

Most Carnegie libraries served the general population of towns and cities, but he also provided some academic libraries in the UK. (This pattern of town and academic libraries was in line with his policy in the US where he provided a number of college libraries, for example at Tuskegee University.[6]) In Stoke-on-Trent the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust funded a specialist ceramics library. The existence of special collections with catalogues gave scope for the development of interlibrary loans.

From 1913 applications were handled by the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust, based in Carnegie's home town, Dunfermline. The trust continued to fund libraries after Carnegie's death in 1919, but its priorities shifted to other areas of its charitable work.

Current status of Carnegie libraries

As at 2011 many of the UK's Carnegie libraries continue to be used for their original purpose. However, Carnegie libraries are being affected by local authority budget cuts which are reducing the number of public libraries across the country.

The fate of library buildings which are closed is uncertain. It depends partly on heritage listing. The British system of designating listed buildings has tended to favour pre-20th century buildings, with the result that at the beginning of the 21st century some Carnegie libraries are unprotected and thus at the mercy of the developer once they are no longer required by the local authority. Over the years some Carnegie libraries have been demolished [...] On the other hand, new uses have been found for other Carnegie libraries, e.g. Pontefract's Carnegie library is now a museum. [Others have been converted into bars and restaurants.]

Carnegie libraries in Birmingham.

Aston Cross, 1903.
Bartley Green 1905.
Birchfield, extension 1904.
Erdington 1907.
King's Heath 1905, Renaissance classical style with art nouveau features Grade II listed.
King's Norton 1906.
Northfield Library 1906, destroyed by fire in 1914, reputedly the work of suffragettes, rebuilt using original facade.
Rednal 1909.
Selly Oak Library 1906.
Stirchley 1907."

Support now
Signatures: 3,536Next Goal: 5,000
Support now