The History of the Carnegie Library
More than 3,000 Carnegie Libraries worldwide were funded by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie between 1883 and 1929. In 1908, Carnegie donated $12,500 to the City of Bemidji for the construction of a new library, standing in Library Park.
Throughout its history, Bemidji’s Carnegie Library served as the location for a wide variety of community organizations, including the Women’s Study Club, various charities, the Red Cross, theater groups, and for events such as Christmas teas, lectures, and training classes. Eventually it outgrew its space and moved to new quarters. Since then, the Carnegie has been home to the County Welfare Office, the Headwaters School of Music and the Arts, and the Bemidji Community Art Center.
The Carnegie Library earned a place on the National Register of Historic Places because of its architecture and its historic significance. With its imposing presence and prominent position, the Library is one of the last landmark buildings remaining in Bemidji.
Restoration of the building has enriched our community and reconnected us with our past by preserving this precious piece of our heritage. The Carnegie is once again available for all the community to use and enjoy; a focus of civic pride; an important part of our historic downtown; and a legacy for future generations to cherish.