Knowledge Access: The Effects of Carnegie Libraries on Innovation

73 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2020 Last revised: 27 Dec 2021

See all articles by Enrico Berkes

Enrico Berkes

Ohio State University (OSU) - Economics

Peter Nencka

Miami University of Ohio

Date Written: December 22, 2021

Abstract

Between 1883 and 1919, Andrew Carnegie funded the construction of more than 1,500 public libraries across the United States, reducing the costs of accessing knowledge for millions of people. We study the effect of these libraries on innovation using new data on city-level patenting and a novel control group: cities that qualified to receive a library grant and applied to be part of the program, but ultimately did not build a library. Patenting in recipient towns increased by 7-11 percent in the 20 years following library construction. We show that access to scientific knowledge and opportunities to interact with fellow patrons are possible mechanisms.

Keywords: Libraries, Knowledge Access, Innovation, Patents

JEL Classification: H4, L3, N9, O3, R1

Suggested Citation

Berkes, Enrico and Nencka, Peter, Knowledge Access: The Effects of Carnegie Libraries on Innovation (December 22, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3629299 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3629299

Enrico Berkes

Ohio State University (OSU) - Economics ( email )

United States

Peter Nencka (Contact Author)

Miami University of Ohio ( email )

Oxford, OH 45056
United States

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