The Olive Tree
UMaine’s Carnegie Hall is 100 years old this year. One of the original Carnegie
Library buildings in New England, this impressive structure shares an important
history, both with the other Carnegie Libraries and with the University.
Carnegie Hall was constructed at a time when the campus desperately needed a new building dedicated as a library. The University's library began in 1868 with a request for donations, and by 1870, the library owned 125 volumes and had subscriptions to 8 papers. The collection was housed in Fernald Hall, and the reading room was in White Hall. By 1888, the collection had grown to 4,000 volumes, then to 8,370 volumes and 2,000 pamphlets by 1894. In 1897, The University of Maine was designated as a national repository for federal government documents, which caused the collection to grow even faster. The collection was moved to several rooms in Coburn Hall, and additional storage was set up in the basement of Alumni Hall.
Around 1900, the collection was at well over 10,000 volumes and there was no room in which to store any new material. President Fernald was corresponding secretly with Andrew Carnegie, trying to receive funding for a new library. The only other people who knew about the plan were the librarian Ralph Kneeland Jones and the President's secretary. Negotiations went on for five years, because Carnegie was hesitant about donating money for a library to a university, but on February 7, 1905, the $50,000 gift was finally announced. Carnegie also gave $5,000 for furnishings. In addition to Carnegie's gift, Hallowell's Granite Works contributed the granite used at cost, while A.D. Houghton ('87) built the stacks himself. Carnegie Hall was dedicated on November 2, 1906. The books were moved from Alumni and Coburn Halls one row at a time by 25 students over 3 days of the Thanksgiving break. Carnegie later commented that the University of Maine was one of the few places where his projects had not run over-budget.
Carnegie Hall housed the University library for over 40 years. However, after the end of World War II, the huge increase in students attending the University and using the library, as well as the need to house a collection large enough to meet those students'needs, required that the University complete a new library. So, in 1947, the Raymond H. Fogler Library was dedicated, and Carnegie was given to the music and art departments for use as a fine arts center.
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