KCKPL History

Kansas City, Kansas Public Library History

The Kansas legislature in 1893 passed a special act giving the Board of Education of Kansas City, Kansas authority to accept responsibility for administering the library. In 1899, the library came under the authority of the Board of Education and remains under it today. The original Carnegie library building was located at 625 Minnesota Ave., circa 1911. The cornerstone of the building was laid at night under new electric arc lights on September 6, 1902. More than 3,000 people turned out to witness the event.

KCKPL Library Directors

Since 1895, 20 people have served as KCKPL's director or acted in the role of director. The following list represents those professionals.

  • Carol Levers -- 2010-present
  • Jason Strickland (acting - school district personnel) -- 2009-2010
  • John Rios (acting - school district personnel) -- 2008-2009
  • Charles Perdue -- 1988-2008
  • Teresa Garrison (acting - library personnel) -- 1987-1988
  • Raymond E. Riddle -- 1985-1987
  • Teresa Garrison (acting - library personnel) -- 1984-1985
  • Charles Joyce -- 1978-1984
  • Carl Kent (acting - school district personnel) -- 1978-1978
  • Esther Norman (acting - library personnel) -- 1978-1978
  • Willard Dennis -- 1963-1978
  • Esther Norman -- 1953-1963
  • Gerald H. Sandy -- 1941-1953
  • Donald Kohlstedt -- 1935-1941
  • O.Q. Claflin (acting)
  • Bertha McMann -- 1924-1932
  • Sara Judd Greenman -- 1902-1924
  • Mina Lane Fanin -- 1899-1902
  • Mary Farrow -- 1897-1899
  • Elizabeth Mae Dickinson -- 1895-1897

Articles about KCKPL's History

The following articles focus on KCKPL's history.

  • Click here to read the Then & Now Series article about the Library's History. Margaret Landis researched and wrote this article. Find the series online by going here.
  • Read bio about Sarah Richart, known as the "Benefactor of the Library".

Kansas City, Kansas Public Library through Photos

The following are photos of Kansas City, Kansas Public Library facilities throughout its history.

  • Argentine Branch Library
  • Bookmobiles
  • Downtown Carnegie Library
  • Argentine Branch Library
    The Argentine Library closed in 2012 with the opening of the then new South Branch Library.

    Argentine black & white
    Argentine Color
    Argentine-side view

    Prior to our current fleet of three Mobile Libraries, KCKPL had various bookmobiles in the past. Below are images of these retro libraries on wheels.

    First Bookmobile

    Downtown Carnegie Library
    The original library located near where the Main Library is located, which is at 625 Minnesota Ave. The Carnegie Library was razed in 1965 to make room for a parking lot for the current library.

    1904 Carnegie

    1904 photo of the Downtown Carnegie Library

    1960 Carnegie

    1960 photo of the Downtown Carnegie Library


    Aerial photo of Minnesota Ave.

    NE View

    Northeast View of Library

    Building side view

    Side view of Library

    South view

    South View of Library


    Carnegie Library viewed from the South


    Library from the East


    View of Library from the North


    Library Postcard


    Library Postcard

    Rose Garden

    Rose Garden leading to Library


    Library Lobby

    Front Desk

    Front Desk

    Reading in Stacks

    Reading in the Stacks

    Children Studying

    Children Studying


    Children using viewfinders

    Technical Services

    Technical Services area used to process materials