KCKPL History

Kansas City, Kansas Public Library History

The Kansas legislature in 1893 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 remains under it today. The original Carnegie library building was located at 625 Minnesota Ave., circa 1911. The cornerstone of the building was laid at night under new electric arc lights on September 6, 1902. More than 3,000 people turned out to witness the event.

KCKPL Library Directors

Since 1895, 20 people have served as KCKPL's director or acted in the role of director. The following list represents those professionals.

  • Carol Levers -- 2010-present
  • Jason Strickland (acting - school district personnel) -- 2009-2010
  • John Rios (acting - school district personnel) -- 2008-2009
  • Charles Perdue -- 1988-2008
  • Teresa Garrison (acting - library personnel) -- 1987-1988
  • Raymond E. Riddle -- 1985-1987
  • Teresa Garrison (acting - library personnel) -- 1984-1985
  • Charles Joyce -- 1978-1984
  • Carl Kent (acting - school district personnel) -- 1978-1978
  • Esther Norman (acting - library personnel) -- 1978-1978
  • Willard Dennis -- 1963-1978
  • Esther Norman -- 1953-1963
  • Gerald H. Sandy -- 1941-1953
  • Donald Kohlstedt -- 1935-1941
  • O.Q. Claflin (acting)
  • Bertha McMann -- 1924-1932
  • Sara Judd Greenman -- 1902-1924
  • Mina Lane Fanin -- 1899-1902
  • Mary Farrow -- 1897-1899
  • Elizabeth Mae Dickinson -- 1895-1897

Articles about KCKPL's History

The following articles focus on KCKPL's history.

  • Click here to read the Then & Now Series article about the Library's History. Margaret Landis researched and wrote this article. Find the series online by going here.
  • Read bio about Sarah Richart, known as the "Benefactor of the Library".

KCKPL Mascot RU Reading

Kansas City, Kansas Public Library's mascot is a lizard named RU Reading. The lizard originated from a cooperative project with the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools to promote reading. In support of USD 500's Just Read Program and to stimulate interest in reading, a contest was held by KCKPL to name the giant green book-loving lizard created by Main library staff member David Carleton. 6-year-old Shanna Martin won naming the lizard R.U. Reading. The happy green lizard has graced KCKPL in the form of posters, stickers, tote bags, t-shirts, library cards, keychains, coloring pages, beanie babies, and even a human-sized costume. RU Reading has become a beloved personality in the community appearing at school, civic and library events to promote the public library and reading.

RU Coloring Pages


Kansas City, Kansas Public Library has had many iterations over the years of logos to represent the library.


Kansas City, Kansas Public Library through Photos

The following are photos of Kansas City, Kansas Public Library facilities throughout its history.

Argentine Branch Library
The Argentine Library closed in 2012 with the opening of the then new South Branch Library.

Argentine black & white
Argentine Color
Argentine-side view

Prior to our current fleet of three Mobile Libraries, KCKPL had various bookmobiles in the past. Below are images of these retro libraries on wheels.

First Bookmobile

Downtown Carnegie Library
The original library located near where the Main Library is located, which is at 625 Minnesota Ave. The Carnegie Library was razed in 1965 to make room for a parking lot for the current library.

1904 Carnegie

1904 photo of the Downtown Carnegie Library

1960 Carnegie

1960 photo of the Downtown Carnegie Library


Aerial photo of Minnesota Ave.

NE View

Northeast View of Library

Building side view

Side view of Library

South view

South View of Library


Carnegie Library viewed from the South


Library from the East


View of Library from the North


Library Postcard


Library Postcard

Rose Garden

Rose Garden leading to Library


Library Lobby

Front Desk

Front Desk

Reading in Stacks

Reading in the Stacks

Children Studying

Children Studying


Children using viewfinders

Technical Services

Technical Services area used to process materials