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  Table of Contents about Andrew Carnegie About Allen Gardiner, author of The Carnegie Legacy in Kansas Further information about Libraries featured in this book Carnegie Legacy in Kansas logo: Link that takes you to the home page  


The library was organized prior to 1902 by the Sorosis Club which charged $1.00 a year for a user's fee. Apparently the library operation became the responsibility of the Sterling Library Association. In 1902 the City of Sterling built city and fire department offices and a room was included for use of the library. On April 4, 1916, the voters approved the establishment of a public library and the levy of a library tax.
Sterling Library: Burlington, Kansas

Mrs. D. B. Higley, secretary of the Sterling Library Association, wrote to Andrew Carnegie, who offered $10,000.00 for a library building on November 9, 1916. The Library Association had purchased a lot on the corner of Broadway and Jefferson Streets which it agreed to turn over to the new library board for use as the library site. Instrumental in securing the Carnegie grant was longtime librarian, Annie Walton.
R. W. Stookey, a representative of the firm of George P. Washburn & Son, of Ottawa, who designed a number of Carnegie libraries in Kansas, met with the library board in February, 1917. Plans were approved by the board and were submitted to the Carnegie Corporation. The contract was awarded to Mr. Stansbury, of Parsons. Wingett Plumbing and Heating Co., of Sterling, was a subcontractor. The Sorosis Club donated $800.00 for furniture for the new library. The building was completed in 1917 and dedicated June 1, 1918.
The building is rectangular, one-story on a raised basement. A set of three windows flank the door on either side. The exterior is of tapestry, or Navajo brick (a rough brick that has in it varied shades of red, brown and yellow), and the architectural plan is that known as the dull English style. The red tile, high-peaked roof had a large old-fashioned chimney on one end. The old English style windows, the high-peaked roof, the water-table, and the front porch are all trimmed in white Carthage stone. The interior is of red oak.
O. C. "Cal" Holcomb, a Sterling resident, bequeathed a large and valuable collection of Lincolniana to the library in 1968. The collection contains more than 1,000 items including hundreds of books, scrapbooks of clippings and letters, photographs, busts, etc.
Ann Kempin Dilley, a pharmacist, left a $108,279.00 bequest from her estate to be used for a children's wing of the library. Her husband, Condit Dilley, had been an assistant postmaster. The 1,650 square foot wing, a memorial to the Dilleys, was erected in 1982.