Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918
THE INDEPENDENCE PUBLIC LIBRARY during the past ten years has succeeded in realizing to a very notable degree the best ideals of a librarythat it is not merely a place for books to be preserved and collected, but has a work to do in influencing and cultivating the tastes of the community and in making its rich contents accessible to the homes it serves.
An outgrowth of the Ladies Library Association, the public library was opened in the new Carnegie Building November 18, 1907. The building was erected at a cost of $22,500, and with grounds the property is now valued at $35,000. The library is at the corner of Maple and Fifth streets.
The present library board is composed of the following: S. M. Nees, president; Mrs. T. H. Stanford, vice president; L. R. Spradling, secretary; Miss Anna M. Gemmell, librarian; Miss Mabelle M. Bays, assistant librarian. The board of directors are: Mayor R. R. Bittman, ex-officio; S. M. Nees, Mrs. G. C. Chaney, Mrs. A. W. Evans; Mrs. G. T. Guernsey, L. R. Spradling, Mrs. A. C. Stich, N. K. Moody, Mrs. T. H. Stanford. The library committees are: BooksMrs. G. T. Guernsey, Mrs. T. H. Stanford, Mrs. G. C. Chaney; Buildings and GroundsMrs. A. C. Stich, Mrs. T. H. Stanford, L. R. Spradling; FinanceL. R. Spradling, Mrs. A. W. Evans.
The librarian, Miss Anna M. Gemmell, assisted in organizing the library and her executive management has been largely responsible for the generous use and patronage that has been made of its collection of 10,000 books. Few libraries in a city of this size have so well balanced a selection of books.
Miss Gemmell as librarian has done her utmost to make the library an essential part of the general scheme for public education at Independence, and has constantly co-operated with the teachers in arranging reading courses and providing reference books to accommodate the program of school studies. During 1915 the library issued to its patrons 85,160 volumes. The number of visitors during that year was 44,785, the number of reference books used was 50,578, and the number of visitors to the art room was 3,830. The art room is on the second floor of the library building, and after the Ladies Library Association had turned over all its collection of books to the public library, it remained an organization for the new purpose, to establish and maintain an art room. The association has fitted up and furnished a room on the second floor for this purpose, and for a number of years art exhibits have been held once or twice a year, and the commissions from the proceeds of the sales have been invested in several excellent oil paintings. During the lifetime of the late A. C. Stich, he and his wife donated three fine paintings to the art room.
Miss Gemmell, ably seconded by the board of directors, has studied and worked constantly to make the library an educational center, ont[sic] only for that normal proportion of a community's population that always uses such an institution, but also for the many who ordinarily do not resort to a library either for recreation or for enlightenment. Thus the Independence Public Library has now become popular not only with the school children and the clubs and professions, but also with representatives of the many skilled mechanical trades and with the people in general.
Transcribed from volume 4, page 1837 of A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918; originally transcribed 1998, modified 2003 by Carolyn Ward.
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