Wednesday, February 2, 2022

The State Library

" 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.' This is from the Kansas State Library website. I visited there yesterday and got Allen Gardiner's Libraries of Kansas book. Gardiner was a librarian at the State Library for many years. He wrote a total of 14 "books", spiral bound with card stock covers. I doubt that they appear in any LC listing, but they are treasures. The Kansas State Library is small for a state library and was not completed until 1900. The Capitol as a whole was completed in 1903. In the entry to the State Library there is a wonderful newspaper clipping with an illuatration of what is now the library area (depicting Wm. Jennings Bryan giving a speech)which was a public gathering spot. At the time the Topeka City library was steps away on the corner of the block and from all accounts quite nice, you have to wonder what affect this had on the State Library. Annie Diggs (yes that Annie Diggs, President of Kansas Women’s Free Silver League, President of the Kansas Press Women and Kansas Equal Suffrage Association...) was the State Librarian at the time. She refused to have wooden bookshelves--she considered them a fire hazard--and to this day the metal bookshelves that she stipulated remain and are in use. She also approved the sunflower motif on the railings. It was not the state flower at the time (that came in 1903 after her tenure).