St Louis Public Library was founded in 1865 as the Public School Library Society of St. Louis. Orginally it was open only to those who had a paid membership but the need for books to be readily available to the public brought about a change in 1874. The public could now come to the library and read on the premises and use the reference books. By 1893, the residents of St Louis decided by vote that the Library needed to be a free service to all residents and established an independent board to run it and a tax to support it. The Central Library building that is seen today in Downtown was built in 1901 along with six branches from a generous donation given by Andrew Carnegie. Four of those original six still exist today being the Barr, Cabanne, Carpenter, and Carondelet branches.