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Library History

1854 –Lawrence is founded in September. By October, a subscription library is planned in connection with the Kansas Atheneum. Membership is $1 per year or a lifetime membership for $25.

1855 – Library is enhanced by a flatboat load of books donated by Mr. Amos Lawrence, namesake of the town. Bylaws of library states that two books could be borrowed at a time for two weeks. Overdue charges are $.25 a week.

1863 – The library is destroyed in William Quantrill’s raid ofLawrence.

1865 – J. S. Boughton restarts a circulating library at735 Massachusetts Street. Books were loaned for a fee of $.10 per week or a yearly ticket could be purchased for $5.

1866 – Library association organized. Purchases the lease of the building, the fixtures and the books from Mr. Boughton.

1867 – Helen Griswold hired as first permanent librarian. Operating budget is augmented by donations and lectures by such noteworthies as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Horace Greeley.

1871 – Library collection totals 1500 volumes, 40 newspapers and magazines subscriptions and one donated chess set. City council votes to place library under the city’s jurisdiction.

1902 – Library holdings now total over 6000 items, including an excellent collection in German. Building is insufficient for entire holdings. Peter Emery leads a successful effort to obtain a grant from Mr. Andrew Carnegie to build an exclusive structure for the library, pending voter approval of criteria. City must agree to guarantee that the library will be a free public library and provide yearly maintenance. A grant of $27,500 is awarded.

1903 – Voters overwhelmingly approve library proposal.

1904 – Two lots on the corner of 9th & Vermont Streets donated by Mrs. C. P. Grovener for site of library. Building is completed and opened to the public on December 26th in the midst of a winter storm.

1919 – Miss Lillian Constant appointed librarian.

1936 – Registrations show that 40% ofLawrence has a library card. The building reaches its capacity for new materials.

1937 – Addition to building is approved which doubles stack space, provides staff office and work areas and a separate newspaper/periodical room. Children’s room is remodeled, also. Registration increases to 60% of the city’s population.

1942 – In cooperation with the Lawrence Parent – Teacher Association, a children’s summer reading program is initiated. The library also participates in the national “Victory Books for Soldiers and Sailors” drive. Over 800 books are collected for distribution to the armed services.

1947 – Miss Constant retires as librarian. She has served as head librarian for 28 years.

1951 – Circulation totals over 100,000 per year. New public relations methods include a radio program and adult and children’s books list in both local newspapers. Paperbacks are added to the collection.

1953 – A record collection is begun with LP and 45rpm records. Collection is primarily classical works.

1955 – Circulation hits a high of 141,329 items. Young adult collection is expanded.

1957 – Improvements to the library include adding air conditioning, a second entrance and parking spaces at the rear of the building.

1960 – Douglas County Committee for Library Services is formed with the intention of expanding library services into the rural areas of the county, withLawrence andBaldwinCity to be the main bases.CountyCommissioners do not support the idea. Plan is placed on countywide election ballot but is soundly defeated.

1963 – Wayne Mayo hired as the head librarian. He will serve until his death in 1994.

1965 – Home delivery for patrons who are unable to come to the library due to age or physical disability is initiated. Interlibrary loan is made available toLawrence patrons.

1966 – The nucleus of the Northeast Kansas Library System (NEKLS) is formed. 30 libraries in the designated NE Kansas area join, with the main office inLawrence.

1968 – 8mm films are added to the collection.

1970 – Due to space considerations and needed building improvements, a bond issue is placed on a city – wide ballot for a new library building and is approved by the voters.

1972 – New library is opened in August, at the corner of 7th andVermont streets. Carnegie Association of Lawrence Library is formed as the initial Friends of the Lawrence Public Library group.

1973 – Sunday hours are added to the library schedule. Statistics show a circulation increase of 25% since the opening of the new library.

1978 – Several physical changes are made to the building, such as replacing window panels and lighting fixtures, in response to energy costs.

1983 – Friends of the Library purchases first computer for public use.

1984 – After much discussion, videotape movies are added to the collection.

1988 – Books on audiotape are newest addition to collection.

1991 – Library expands to the lower level. An additional reference desk is added as the periodicals, fiction, local history and genealogy material are moved to the new area. Security system is installed in lobby.

1994 – Unexpected death of longtime director, Wayne Mayo. He had been Director for 31 years. Bruce Flanders is hired as new director. Though hired from the Kansas State Library where he had been the computer consultant, Bruce had worked at LPL while in high school and college.

1996 – LPL initiates new computerized card catalog and circulation system.

2004 – Lawrence Public Library celebrates its 100th anniversary.

2006 – LPL circulates over 1,000,000 items this year.

2009 – LPL receives a generous grant from Sunflower Broadband and opens the Sunflower Broadband Community Computer Lab.  The lab provides free computer classes to patrons.  The library also launched itsBusinessCenter this year, a new area that offers resources and support to small businesses and job seekers.

2010 – Voters approve an $18 million bond to expand and renovate the library building at 7th and Vermont Streets.

2011 – Library Foundation successfully completes its “New Stories” capital campaign, raising $1,104,000 for the new building.

2012 – Brad Allen, a KU alum, is hired as library director.