Andrew Carnegie (1835– 1919) was a Scottish American industrialist who led the enormous expansion of the American steel industry in the late 19th century. With the fortune he made from business, Carnegie spent his last years as a philanthropist giving away almost 90 percent of his fortune to charities and foundations by the time of his death.
A Carnegie library is a library built with money donated by Andrew Carnegie. A total of 2,509 Carnegie libraries were built between 1883 and 1929—1,689 were built in the United States, 660 in Britain and Ireland, 125 in Canada, and others in Australia, New Zealand, Serbia, the Caribbean, Mauritius and Fiji. By the time the last grant was made in 1919, there were 3,500 libraries in the United States, nearly half of them built with construction grants paid by Carnegie.
In 1902, construction began on the Covington Public Library at the southeast corner of Scott Boulevard and Robbins Street. Funded by a grant from Andrew Carnegie, The public library was completed in 1904. The building is one of only a few remaining Carnegie Libraries in the United States with a full-scale auditorium and has been the home of a multidisciplinary arts venue since 1972.
The Carnegie is for all ages which provides theatre performances, educational programs and art exhibitions to the Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati community. Within its 17,000 square foot facility are The Carnegie Galleries, crowned by a landmark Beaux Arts dome modeled after the Library of Congress rotunda, a newly renovated Otto M. Budig Theatre, and the Eva G. Farris Education center. The Carnegie is the largest arts venue in Northern Kentucky.
The Carnegie is supported in part by the ArtsWave, the Kentucky Arts Council, Kenton County Fiscal Courts as well as by area businesses and corporations, from individuals and private foundation grants, membership dues and ticket sales. The institution is governed by a Board of Trustees, which includes leaders from the Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati business, civic and philanthropic communities, and employees eight full-time and two part-time arts professionals to administer its programs to the region.
It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1972.