Etowah Carnegie Library An Icon To The Community

Written by Lara Crockett & Nancy Dalton

We are very fortunate to have a Carnegie Library in Etowah, TN. It is such a valuable piece of American History. The Etowah Carnegie Library, the second public building erected in Etowah (the first being the Old Grammar school building in 1910), was built in 1915 by means of an $8,000 grant from the Carnegie Foundation. It was built on property donated by the L&N Railroad Company. There are only 2,500 Carnegie Libraries left in the world. About 1,700 of these are in the United States.

Andrew Carnegie (1835 – 1919), believing that patrons should enter through a prominent doorway, is responsible for the 22 steps necessary to enter the library. He commissioned architect Edward L. Tilton to create his design vision. The entry staircase symbolizes Carnegie’s belief that a person should ascend to knowledge and learning, while the lampposts outside symbolize enlightenment. Most of the Carnegie Libraries have this same design.

There were 17 Carnegie libraries built in Tennessee. Only 4 are still functioning as libraries: one in Harriman, two branches in the Nashville system and our Etowah Carnegie Library, which is alive and well as a thriving icon of our community.

While it has been a library continuously for 100 years, in the early days, it also served many other purposes, including a clinic for polio medication during the Depression. It was a site for home demonstration classes to teach women to provide nutritious meals with what little they had. It also served as the first Etowah High School from 1918 to 1922

The library is so much more than just books. It is a true source of information. Its programs include summer reading for children, teens and adults, computer classes, free wi-fi, e-reader checkouts, free public access computers, scanning capabilities, technical assistance, a place to look for a job, copy and fax services, current bestsellers, audiobooks, e-books, over 900 DVDs, large print books and young adult books. It has 20 magazine subscriptions, used books & magazines for sale, genealogy resources, boating exams, meeting places, an X-Box, puzzle swaps, afterschool story times and Lego club, a craft of the month, a local venue for Legal Aid, cultural display and the list goes on.

Six years ago, the Friends of the Etowah Carnegie Library Group was formed to support the Library through a generous donation. Our Etowah Carnegie is in the beginning phase of acquiring an indoor lift that will provide handicap access for everyone in our community.

Etowah is proud to have Lara Crockett as our Librarian.  Lara, a former school teacher at Englewood Elementary, currently lives in Englewood with her husband, Bill, two sons, Logan and Tyler, and two dogs.  Quoting Lara, “We at the Etowah Carnegie Library encourage parents and children to participate in the free programs the library offers. We encourage parents to read to their children and instill a lifelong love of reading.”

The Library is located on Ohio Avenue between 7th & 8th Streets in Etowah. For more information, call 423-263-9475 or visit

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