|All over Arizona and throughout the United States, women's clubs
organized the first public libraries. Dedicated to improving the
cultural and educational opportunities available in their towns, these
women volunteered many hours to develop the early libraries. Women in
Phoenix and other towns also believed that libraries would offer a
better recreational outlet for men's time, away from bars and saloons.
The women librarians who staffed the Carnegie were managed by the all-
male library board. The dedicated librarians served the public 10
hours a day, six days a week and three hours every Sunday, working
long hours for low pay. Mrs. Morford, the head
librarian, earned $40 a month for several years. Finally, in 1911, she
received additional pay for cataloging books, but unfortunately, she
died the next year before receiving the extra pay.
The librarians staffed the library, cataloged, repaired and bought
books with assistance from the secretary of the Carnegie Library
Board, who approved all purchases. By 1916, the library had over
16,000 books. In 1918, the board began urging employees to secure
additional library training at a school or university. As their field
became professional, some Phoenix librarians traveled to California
for library instruction at the Riverside Public Library.
The Carnegie Library was the work site for a revolving group of women
librarians who served the public there for over 40 years, until the
library closed in 1953. The building has been restored through the
leadership of Arizona State Rep. Polly Rosenbaum (now deceased) and is
listed on the National Register of Historic Sites.
For more information, visit the Carnegie Center to see an exhibit on
the library's history. The Carnegie, located at 1101 W. Washington
St., is open from Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Carnegie Library, Phoenix, now known as Carnegie Center - Courtesy of Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records, Archives Division, 01-8226
Librarians at the Carnegie Library, 1910s, - Courtesy of Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records, Archives Division, 02-0064