ABILENEEARLY LIBRARY HISTORY
The library was founded December 20, 1900, by a library association formed by the ladies of The Literary League, the Columbian Club and the Twentieth Century Club. A fundraising affair featuring a lecture by William Jennings Bryan netted $101.O0, which was followed by a four-day rummage sale. The library was opened January 17, 1903.
At the city election of 1905, a tax levy of one mill was approved. A block on which the city hall and fire department, along with "several unsightly and rickety buildings" and untold amounts of rubbish was located, was eyed by library supporters as a possible building site. Mayor H. L. Humphrey led the way, and on May 9, 1905, at a special election, voters approved issuing park bonds. The block was condemned for park purposes and the buildings (save the city hall) were razed.
THE CARNEGIE LIBRARY
Mayor Humphrey wrote to Andrew Carnegie and asked for a library building grant. Carnegie responded with the offer of $12,500.00 for a building on December 8, 1905. A site at Fourth and Broadway was chosen for the library.
The building was designed by A. T. Simmons, an architect living in Bloomington, Ill., who designed numerous library buildings across the land. The contract was given to J. E. Kruger. The building was dedicated October l, 1908.
DESCRIPTION OF THE BUILDING
The building is rectangular, one story above a raised basement. A classical portico frames the front entrance, with stonework columns and an elaborate cornice emphasizing the classical look of the building. The exterior is of yellow or cream-colored brick and the building has a tile roof. The interior is in the Victorian tradition with a domed foyer.
LATER LIBRARY HISTORY
In 1933, the federal government allotted $2,400.00 to be used toward an addition to the library. A library building fund provided an additional $7,681.00 for the project. The construction was designed to harmonize with the original building. The architect for the addition was W. J. Murray, of Abilene, father of the present librarian, Patricia Murray Aker. An open house for the addition was held July 13, 1934.
The children's library, named by the children "The Robert Louis Stevenson Room," was made possible by a bequest from the estate of T. M. Jones in 1943, and the browsing room was furnished in 1954