History of State Library of Kansas
Based upon The Kansas State Library by Allen Gardiner
The State Library was founded on the basis of the Kansas Territorial Library, first funded in 1855. In 1863, the Kansas Legislature made the first appropriations of $2,000 to form the Kansas State Library. Originally the collection consisted of a general collection and a law collection and was housed in the state auditor’s office who also acted as librarian. This proved unsatisfactory and an act in 1870 designated a board of directors and State Librarian appointed by the governor. The initial annual salary of the State Librarian was $500. At this time, the State Library was housed in a room in the East wing of the Capitol. In 1900, the State Library was moved to its current site in the North Wing on the third floor of the Capitol. The State Librarian at the time, populist Annie Diggs, described it best:
"The new rooms are not only spacious and commodious, but delightfully attractive as well. The frescoing is exquisite in color and the woodwork fine of finish… There is no convenience know to the modern library which is unsupplied. The aisles between the rows of book-stacks are furnished with electric lights, which may be turned on at need by switches at each entrance… The large spaces set aside for reading- rooms on either side of the great hall are finely lighted by large windows which command beautiful views of Topeka’s best buildings."
The State Library was built to include the first electric lighting in the Capitol building as well as a glass floor on the second deck. The third deck was added in 1917.
The State Library’s services have changed and adapted as Kansans needs have changed. In 1889, the State Library began a traveling library service to serve rural Kansans. In 1964, a system of grants was developed to assist rural libraries. The needs of individuals with low vision are met through the Kansas Talking Books service begun in the early 1970s. A service to help Kansans obtain important U.S. and Kansas census information began in 1980. The State Library continues to serve the needs of state agencies, legislators, and the general public and will continue to grow and change.