The Kansas City, Kansas Public Library began as a single case of books in an upper room at Fifth Street and Minnesota Avenue. In 1893, the Kansas legislature passed a special act giving the Board of Education of Kansas City, Kansas, authority to accept responsibility for administering the library. In 1899, the library came under the authority of the Board of Education, and Sarah Richart, a former teacher and president of the Federation of Clubs proposed a tax on the dogs of the city and had herself appointed as “dog enumerator.” Instead of pocketing the receipts, as was the previously accepted custom, Mrs. Richart turned the money over to the public library fund, which was used to purchase books for the library.

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On August 5, 1901, Andrew Carnegie donated $75,000 to the KCK Board of Education for a library building. The city and the board agreed to construct the library in the center of Huron Square. The cornerstone of the new library building was laid the evening of September 6, 1902, under new electric arc lights and three thousand people turned out to witness the event. Architect William W. Rose designed the Beaux-Arts building and supervised its construction. The library was completed in the spring of 1904 and opened to the public on March 3. A noted feature of the new building’s design was the sculptures of authors and philosophers under the first-floor windows. Carved in stone were the faces of Goethe, Dante, Darwin, Emerson, Dickens, Longfellow, Homer, and Shakespeare, among others.

Carnegie bust

The Carnegie library served Kansas City, Kansas, for 62 years until the new Main Library opened in 1966.