Home Page St. Marys Headquarters Alma Branch Eskridge Branch Onaga Branch Mini Libraries

Pottawatomie Wabaunsee Regional Library History

The Pottawatomie-Wabaunsee Regional Library began as an 18 month demonstration project conducted by the State Library of Kansas. The project ended on November 6, 1962, with the voters of Pottawatomie and Wabaunsee Counties approving the establishment of the Regional Library by a 2 to 1 margin. The Pottawatomie Wabaunsee Regional Library is today the only two-county public library in Kansas.

The St. Marys Branch Library became the headquarters for the Regional Library, and the Onaga Library was established as a Branch in 1962. The Alma Branch Library was added in 1963, and the Eskridge Branch was added in 1967.

The headquarters of the library moved to the former Hill School gymnasium in 1983. The old gym was purchased and renovated by Mrs. Regina Simon. She then presented the building to the City of St. Marys for the use of the library. The former stage area is now the reference room, called the "Regina Simon Room", in recognition of Mrs. Simon's generous gift of the building.

PWRL originally operated a bookmobile that stopped at many of the rural communities in both counties. Due to the cost of the service, and a reduction in use, the Bookmobile ceased operation in 1995. The Board determined at that time that a new means to provide Library service to the rural areas was needed. As a result, three Mini Libraries were established as service outlets in Harveyville, Olsburg, and Westmoreland in 1981. A forth Mini Library was opened at Alta Vista in 1996.

Mini Libraries are access points for Library service. Their purpose is to provide residents in more remote areas of the two counties with direct, but limited, Library service. Materials at Mini locations are continually rotated from PWRL's shared collection of more than 100,000 items, and a fresh and balanced selection is maintained at each location.

Today PWRL strives to provide free and open access to information and deliver the best possible Library Services to the residents of Pottawatomie and Wabaunsee Counties. The Library serves a population of 24,362 residents in Pottawatomie and Wabaunsee counties, has a legal service area of 1612 square miles, and maintains libraries in the rural communities of Alma, Alta Vista, Eskridge, Harveyville, Olsburg, Onaga, St. Marys and Westmoreland.

The Pottawatomie Wabaunsee Regional Library is established under K.S.A. 12-1231 et seq. The Library is supported by a mill levy on the two counties, excluding Wamego and the part of Manhattan in Pottawatomie County. The division of the budget between the two counties is based on population and valuation in each county, per K.S.A. 12-1234