Andrew Carnegie

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Smithfield City Public Library

Open Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Friday, 2:30-5 p.m.; and Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.; 435-563-3555

Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie made his fortune in steel. America was growing in the late 1800s, and it was doing it on the backbone of steel.

But Carnegie was not just a business tycoon, in it for his own wealth. At one time considered the second-richest man in the world, Carnegie believed in using his money for the good of others. The son of Scottish immigrants who came to the United States in 1848 — his father was a weaver by trade — Carnegie worked his way to the top and wanted to help others do the same. It is said that he ended up giving away about 90 percent of his fortune to various charitable and self-improvement causes.

The establishment of Carnegie Libraries was one of his pet projects .

As a young boy, Carnegie loved to read, but books weren't easy to come by in those days — until he met up with Col. James Anderson, who had an extensive private library that he opened to working boys on the weekends. Carnegie was a frequent borrower. In those days, he was working as a bobbin boy, changing spools of thread in a cotton mill. He earned $1.20 a week, plus 80 cents for firing the furnace.

Carnegie worked as a telegraph operator, railroad superintendent, developed ironworks and eventually turned to steel.

As he worked, Carnegie developed strong opinions about the role of wealth in society, which he expressed in a number of publications, including "Triumphant Democracy" (1886) and "Gospel of Wealth" (1889). In an article called "The Best Fields for Philanthropy," published in 1889, he advised 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."

In 1880 Carnegie donated a library to Dunfermline, his hometown in Scotland, and the world of books would never be the same. Between then and 1929, Carnegie donated funds for more than 3,000 libraries in the United States, Britain, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Serbia, the Caribbean and Fiji.

His system was for him to provide the funds to build and equip the library, and the community had to come up with the site and funds for operating maintenance.

Carnegie died in 1919, at the age of 83. In addition to his many libraries, he left other important legacies. Carnegie Hall in New York City was named after him. Carnegie, Penn., and Carnegie, Okla., were both named in his honor. He also has both a dinosaur, Diplodocus carnegiei, and a cactus, Carnegiea gigantea (commonly known as the saguaro) named for him. The Carnegie Medal for the best children's literature published in the United Kingdom also bears his name.