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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Schipske Helps Save Historic Library Cornerstone

I am proud to say that I spearheaded the efforts to rescue a historic granite cornerstone that once was part of the City's first library building.

As you might recall, last year when the City was getting ready to "swap" the Public Service yard for acreage off Second Street, I asked for an inventory of the artifacts and other items stored over there.

During the photo presentation to Council, I noticed a photograph of a cornerstone that read:
Gift of Andrew Carnegie, A.D. 1908
Since the history of Long Beach is a passion of mine (having written two books on the topic and working on a third), I recognized immediately what the cornerstone, lying in the dirt and weeds represented for the City of Long Beach.

Our City was the beneficiary of a $30,000 gift from Andrew Carnegie, who had made his fortune in steel and set about giving away 95% of his wealth to create libraries across the U.S. The condition was a city needed to give the land for the library and promise to tax its residents for the upkeep. Which the City of Long Beach did at Pacific Park (now called Lincoln Park).

Only 1,681 cities qualified for Carnegie grants from 1889 - 1923. It helped that Long Beach had been operating a library in City Hall and that the City was committed to public schools and public libraries.

The cornerstone was laid on September 5, 1908 and on May 29, 190 the building was open to the public. The use of the Long Beach Public Library grew rapidly. In 1906, the library had 6,678 volumes and by 1910, it had 18,373.

Save Station 18

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