Carnegie's Gift of Public Libraries

Grade Level: 
6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Carnegie, Andrew
Philanthropic Traditions
Video Clip and Discussion Guide: Andrew Carnegie is the name associated most with philanthropy. His gift of libraries impacted communities across the country. This gift included the requirement that the community must match his gift and continue to maintain it. Watch this 2-minute video and follow with a discussion.

Anticipatory Set

Ask the students to name a famous philanthropist. Listen to a few responses until you hear them name Carnegie. Tell them that there is a reason that Carnegie's name comes up, and this video will tell more about his gifts. Tell them them to be ready to discuss the benefits of a "matching grant."



  1. How did Andrew Carnegie make his fortune? Have someone look up the answer on the Internet.
  2. Why was he so generous in giving away his fortune? Have someone look up his philosophy of philanthropy.
  3. What do you like about his decision to set up libraries in communities across the country?
  4. What was the process that would bring a grant of $25,000 to a community to build a library?
  5. How can young people use the idea of a matching grant creatively to get buy-in from others?

Follow-Up Activity

Have the students look up on the Internet whether there is a Carnegie library in your community. Have them find the nearest one and write a summary of its story. Take a field trip to visit the library.