Andrew Carnegie - Carnegie, Libraries: "Outside the library Carnegie built in Allegheny is a monument to Anderson, and on the entrance arch to most libraries he built is the inscription, 'Free to All' -- and 'if one boy in each library district, by having access to one of these libraries, is half as much benefited as I was by having access to Colonel Anderson's four hundred well-worn volumes, I shall consider they have not been established in vain.'"
On this day Andrew Carnegie started building free public libraries around the world, eventually building 2500 in a dozen countries.
He became the richest man in the world, of his era, mainly because he was able to talk himself into a small private library to read books. Which is a fun story on its own, but until he started his building program public libraries were rare and widely scattered. Most libraries were private and getting in would required knowing someone or having the money to buy in.
Between the donations of Carnegie and the organization of Dewey we have our modern library system. Of course they have had a bit of an identity crisis in hte last few years with the internet but things are settling down now.
Sadly it does not look like his dream of one boy doing half as well as he did has ever been achieved but there is still hope.