Thursday, August 12, 2010

QuoteHunt. And a surprise: women.

I was reading this story, "Libraries vital to our community," when I read this quote attributed to Andrew Carnegie:
"Andrew Carnegie instituted a free library system throughout the country because he believed in giving to the 'industrious and ambitious; not those who need everything done for them, but those who, being most anxious and able to help themselves, deserve and will be benefited by help from others.'"
And I thought, wow, I don't remember hearing that "not those who need everything done for them" part before. And so I wanted to find the source for the quote.

I googled the quote and found a Wikipedia page with a link to the original essay, "The Best Fields for Philanthropy" from The North American Review Volume 0149 Issue 397 (December 1889).

Andrew Carnegie, pp. 682-699:
The individual administrator of surplus wealth has as his charge the industrious and ambitious; not those who need everything done for them, but those who, being most anxious and able to help themselves, deserve and will be benefited by help from others and the extension of their opportunities at the hands of the philanthropic rich. It is ever to be remembered that one of the chief obstacles which the philanthropist meets in his efforts to do real and permanent good in this world is the practice of indiscriminate giving; and the duty of the millionaire is to resolve to cease giving to objects that are not proved clearly to his satisfaction to be deserving.
So if this essay can be applied to public libraries as the author of the above article concludes (with the help of Wikipedia), then librarians are meant to use their wealth to assist the deserving, which is something with which I'm not sure I entirely agree... Oh, I'm just pulling your leg. I agree completely.

To every lazy person who has every approached and said, "do it for me," and especially the ones who snap their fingers and say, "come here and do it for me," and especially, especially the ones who say, "come here, snap my fingers for me and then do it for me," I say... oh, crap, I forgot what I was going to say with all this typing... but I'm sure it was cutting.

So I read a little from Carnegie, I check the Table of Contents for that issue of The North American Review and see this, "The Incapacity of Business Women" by Marion Harland. It's not related to anything, but I thought it might cheer you up.
Here lies the defective spot in the claim for equitable wages for working women. Physical disability apart, they do not work as men do. A man grasps his business with both hands. If his hands are not strong enough, he clamps it with his feet, and, rather than let it go, seizes it with his jaws. It is his life himself!
A woman, even when the daily bread of herself and her children depends upon a clerkship, or employment in a factory, or the teachers place in a public school, regards her labor as the means to an end. It is the ladder reared against the height she would win. A mans chosen craft or profession is the central stone staircase, built into the solid structure. Men work by the job, concentrating every energy upon the task of perfecting that which must pass or be rejected upon its own merit. Women go out by the day and watch the clock! Men have ambitions; women have hopes. The reasons assigned for these radical differences are led off in most essays on the subject, and pertinently, by the fact that women look forward to marriage as a definite means of support, and hold but loosely that which they may be called upon at any moment to give up.
Wow. I didn't know women were such poor employees. 100 years ago. And yes, Marion is (was) a woman. Google her.