Public Invited to Eureka Springs Carnegie Public Library 100th Birthday Celebration

Friday blogs are a mix of things instead of fitting a theme like my other blog days. Most of the time it is event oriented and other times just something I need to share.

Jill M. Rohrbach
jillsjourneys@gmail.com

In addition to shopping venues, Victorian architecture, Thorncrown Chapel, The Great Passion Play, music shows, unique lodging, tons of events, and other tourist attractions, the town of Eureka Springs is rich in history. Part of that history will be celebrated this year with the centennial of its Carnegie Public Library. The celebration is open to visitors and city residents, comes complete with free food and live entertainment, and takes place from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. this Sunday, June 13.

Live music for the party will be provided by Don and Scott, Brick Fields (Larry and Rachel Brick), Arkansas Red, Catherine Reed, and Mountain Sprout. Partygoers will be treated to free burgers, hot dogs, fruit and beverages, all compliments of Cornerstone Bank, Community First Bank, Arvest Bank, and First National Bank of Berryville.

Children will enjoy special appearances by “Wild Thing,” from Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, and Curious George. There will be children’s story circles throughout the party. From 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., adults will help children make old-fashioned crafts, such as dolls from cornhusks and fashioning toys from wood.

Mayor Dani Joy and others will speak briefly to commemorate this historic occasion. And, at 5:15 p.m., after everyone sings Happy Birthday Dear Library, birthday cake and cupcakes will be served.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Andrew Carnegie founded 2,509 libraries in several countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. According to the Web site, www.carnegie.org, he spent more than $55 million of his wealth on libraries alone.

In 1910 a group of residents from Eureka Springs petitioned Andrew Carnegie for funds to build a public library in the town. Carnegie agreed to donate $12,500 for a library, contingent upon the city providing funds for a librarian, books and utilities.

For a full century, citizens of Eureka Springs have shown their appreciation of Carnegie’s generous gift to the town by patronizing, maintaining, upgrading, and enhancing the Carnegie Library. The original stone building now houses not only books, periodicals, and newspapers, but internet access, books on tape, and a CD and DVD collection. The library sponsors children’s programs, book club discussions, and language classes. Materials not owned by the library can be borrowed through “Interlibrary Loan,” a free service which can access the resources of libraries across the nation.

The library is one of only two remaining Carnegie-funded libraries in Arkansas. There were four and now there are two that are still being used as libraries. Morrilton’s is still in use as a library. The Carnegie Library in Little Rock was razed in 1964, and the one in Fort Smith serves as a television production studio.

In addition to the events being a draw, the Classical Revival-style building itself is interesting to explore for those who enjoy architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970, and constructed of locally quarried limestone. The architecture of Carnegie’s libraries was typically simple and formal. Many welcome patrons to enter by ascending a staircase to a prominent doorway as a symbolization of a person’s elevation by learning. Outside, a lamppost stood for enlightenment. Eureka Springs’ library has a main entry accessed by two staircases leading up from each side. Two sconces with large round globes flank each side of the door.

For more information and details about events throughout the rest of the year, visit the library’s Web site at www.EurekaLibrary.org or call 479-253-8754. The library is located at 194 Spring St. in the historic downtown.
 
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