Column: Carnegie’s legacy one for the books

Andrew Carnegie was not a Hoosier. He was born in Scotland and lived his life in the U.S. East. However, the steel magnate left a lasting impression on Indiana — 164 impressions, to be exact. That’s how many public libraries Carnegie gave to the Hoosier state.

National Library Week (April 13 to 19) is a good time to check out the nice little libraries Carnegie built for Hoosiers a century ago.

As is widely known, he made his fortune in steel in the latter part of the 18th century. As he grew older, he had a desire to start giving back. His goal, he said, was “the improvement of mankind.” By the time he died in 1919, he had given away more than 90 percent of his wealth. His money went to install 7,000 church organs across the nation and to create the Carnegie Hero Fund, the Carnegie Institutes and the Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Libraries, though, were his passion. “It was from my own early experience,” Carnegie said, “that I decided there was no use to which money could be applied so productive of good to girls and boys who have good within them and ability and ambition to develop it as the founding of a public library.”

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