Liberal Memorial Library

519 North Kansas
Liberal, KS 67901

620-626-0180

History:

The Library began as a reading room in 1903 when the Liberal Woman's Club established the first public reading room in a rented room in the old Chamber of Commerce building on South Kansas street. Books were loaned by individuals and circulated by volunteer librarians. The main librarians were Mrs. Lillian Long, Mrs. Mina Rindom, and Florence Brown, with all thirty other club members helping. The room was in operation for only three months, closing because of a shortage of workers and funds.

A proposition for a Carnegie Library, sponsored by the Woman's Club, was submitted to the Liberal voters in the Spring of 1904. Because Woman's Suffrage was not yet in force, the club could not vote for their proposition. It lost to sidewalks and a new jail.

In 1905, the Liberal Woman's Club determined to build a library. In 1909, the club purchased a small two-room house and two adjoining lots at 317 West Second Street to use for their meetings and for a library. The price was $500. To help raise funds for the club house it was rented out as an educational and religious building. Other sources of income included food sales, dinners, and entertainments. Finally, in 1911, the Woman's Club was able to pay the mortgage in full. With the formal opening on October 12, 1915, the club house was made into the first library in Liberal.

The library was open two afternoons a week until the end of the first month, then stayed open all day on Saturdays. Mrs. Maureen Tate was the first librarian hired, working for $5 a month.

To supplement the book collection, the Club subscribed to the Traveling Library, provided by the Kansas State Library from Topeka. This service lasted from 1915 to 1925, and was discontinued when the City of Liberal took control of the library.

In World War I, funds were hard to secure. Consequently, in 1918, the Club appointed library board went to the City Council for financial help. They were granted $500.

The new library building was to be located on the west half of the block between Fifth and Sixth streets on North Kansas Avenue, which was known as Cooper Park. The land had been donated to Liberal to be used as a public park by Mr. and Mrs. Earl D. Cooper on May 6, 1947. Funds and pledges in the amount of $15,000 were donated by the citizens of Liberal.

The ground-breaking ceremony for Memorial Library was held in the Spring of 1951. Mr. E.D. Cooper turned the first spade of earth and the Woman's Club attended as a group.

Memorial Library joined the Southwest Kansas Library System in January of 1969, contracting for partial services. SWKLS offered the services of an Interlibrary Loan System with which the patron could borrow materials from other libraries at the cost of return postage, and the Kansas Information System with which a patron's request of materials was put on a Teletype to other library systems. Memorial Library started contracting for full services in 1970, which included services such as Rotating Books and workshops for staff members.

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