From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Kentucky Carnegie Colored Libraries International Influence

(start date: 1908) 

The first Carnegie Colored Library buildings were built in Louisville, KY: Western Branch in 1908 and Eastern Branch in 1914. The addition of the branches enhanced the recognition of the Louisville Free Public Library as the national leader in segregated library training and services for African Americans.

The Carnegie Corporation attempted to transfer the ideology to South Africa. In 1927, Frederick P. Keppel, President of Carnegie Corporation of New York visited South Africa and learned of the need for libraries. The corporation then sent Septimus A. Pitt and Milton J. Ferguson to Africa to assess the situation; one of the outcomes from their visit was the development of the Non-European Library Service in South Africa.

The Carnegie Corporation also provided grants to white South Africans for visits to libraries in the United States. In 1929, two of the visitors, Matthew W. Stirling, Librarian at Germiston, and Dugald Niven, Librarian at Bulawayo, Rhodesia [then within South Africa, now Zimbabwe], came to the Louisville Free Public Library (LFPL) seeking ideas on how to provide services to their “Negroes.”  An LFPL spokesmen commented, "We had the pleasure of showing them some of the colored work of the Louisville Free Public Library and they were very much impressed."

The first Black librarian in South Africa, Herbert Isaac Ernest Dhlomo (1903-1956), was employed by the Carnegie Non-European Library Service, 1937-1940. Dhlomo, a Zulu, had the title of Library Organizer at the headquarters in Germiston.

For more see J. E. Holloway, “Negro Libraries in America,” Bantu World, Johannesburg, 12/19/1936, p. 8.; H.I.E. Dhlomo Collected Works, by N. Visser and T. Couzens; Memorandum: Libraries in the Union of South Africa, Rhodesia, and Kenya Colony [duplicate titles], one by S. A. Pitt and one by M. J. Ferguson; “Quarter of a century with library here is Settle’s record,” The Courier-Journal (Louisville), 12/29/1929, Section 2, p. 8; M. K. Rochester, "The Carnegie Corporation and South Africa: Non-European Library Services," Libraries & Culture, vol. 34,  issue 1 (Winter 1999), pp. 27-51; and the quotation from the Louisville Free Public Library, Regular meeting Board of Trustees, Wednesday, November 13, 1929, item d.

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“Kentucky Carnegie Colored Libraries International Influence,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 12, 2024,

Last modified: 2024-06-10 16:52:59