'Let the reader emerge!'
Milestones of the Syracuse University Libraries

Sign of the Times: A Carnegie Library for Syracuse University

The von Ranke Library, Trustee Reid and University Librarian Sibley were soon to realize, provided ample storage but very inadequate reading and office space. The growing number of periodicals and, since 1892, Library Economics classes also demanded space. A west wing addition completed in 1903 did not bring significant relief. It became clear the University needed another, larger library building.

Since 1889, steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie had been funding construction of primarily public libraries all over the country and abroad. Syracuse University approached Carnegie with a proposal to fund a new campus library shortly after the completion of construction of the von Ranke Library addition. Carnegie agreed to provide the $150,000 of building costs if the University would match his gift to establish a library endowment. In Spring 1905, Syracuse University met this condition. The University’s Carnegie Library was completed and opened in 1907. The new building would not only house the Library’s new main reading room and stacks, but the Library School as well.

Carnegie letter, 1905. James Roscoe Day Papers, University Archives, Special Collections Research Center.

Letter from the office of Andrew Carnegie confirming his commitment to providing construction costs for a new library once the University was able to raise the required matching endowment.

The Construction of Carnegie Library, circa 1906. Syracuse University Photograph Collection, University Archives, Special Collections Research Center.

Syracuse University’s Carnegie Library officially opened on September 11, 1907 after books and pamphlets had been transferred from the von Ranke Library [center in the back]. The librarian of the University of Pennsylvania hailed it as the best designed academic library building in the country. The University’s Library system now held 71,422 volumes, almost 20,000 of which were housed across campus in the schools and colleges’ ten department libraries.