Early Library History

The Library was established July 31, 1892, under the auspices of the Presbyterian Church with the Rev. J.W. Funk being the prime mover. The Library was transferred to the City of Halstead on July 28, 1893 and a public reading room was located in the City Hall. At that time the Library was directed by a board of councilors and patrons were required to buy tickets at a yearly rate of $1.50 to use it. A library tax was begun in 1902.

The Carnegie Library

On January 23, 1909, Andrew Carnegie responded to Halstead’s plea for a library building by offering $7,500.00 for a library. In February, the city council accepted Carnegie’s offer. No further action was taken, however, until February 1915, when the offer was actually taken up. The City pledged to furnish a site and an annual budget of $750.00.

A site at the corner of Third and Main Streets was chosen and the architectural firm of George P. Washburn & Son, of Ottawa, was engaged to design the building. The contract was let, July 19, 1916, to L.F. Nibelong, of Ottawa, for $6,521.00. Southwestern Electric Co., of Wichita, got the contract for the electrical work, and the plumbing and heating contract went to George A. Lehman. The general contract was originally $6,364.00 but $113.00 was deducted because the board had determined to use an imitation stone rather than Carthage or Bedford stone for the trimming. The building was dedicated April 17, 1917. The total cost was just over $8,000.00

New Modern Building Built

The building became increasingly crowded, and on November 7, 1972, voters approved a $98,000 bond issue to construct a new library building. In 1972, the books were temporarily moved to the new city hall basement. The old Carnegie building was razed and the new building was erected on the same site. The new library was dedicated in May, 1974. U.S. Senator Bob Dole gave the dedicatory address. In 1984, the basement was finished for library use.

The 1980’s saw an addition made to the east end of the library building as the need for space had increased. This addition was made possible by city funds and generous donations from many businesses, organizations,and individuals. The construction work was done by Allen Becker; it was begun on July 20, 1989 and completed August 31, 1989.