The small but stately building is one of Nashville's two remaining Carnegie Libraries. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, industrialist Andrew Carnegie funded hundreds of libraries across the United States and elsewhere. Many have been torn down, with a few serving other purposes, especially on college campuses. The remaining buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places.
The East Nashville branch, which opened in 1919, is one of the few still serving as a library, along with another of the city's neighborhood branches.
The building, designed by Nashville architect Clarence H. Colley, was renovated in 2000 "to reverse modern renovations made in 1963," according to the library's web site.
With a small meeting room and a popular computer center, the East Library provides vital services to the surrounding community.
Students at a nearby high school that claims Oprah Winfrey as an alum are welcome to use the library's film and video equipment, and can take creative writing classes. The library's small book collection includes a nice offering of new arrivals.
As with Atlanta, Nashville demolished its original Carnegie-funded downtown central library. Unlike Atlanta's "brutalist" replacement, Nashville built its succeeding downtown library in a neo-traditional style.
Atlantans can find remnants of the old Carnegie Library at a downtown monument. The legacy also lives on with the street named Carnegie Way.