Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Pratt, Kansas has Always Supported It's Libraries

Pratt, Kansas has supported its libraries from early years, getting its start in 1909 when the Coterie Club, a local study group, offered its library to the city, offering its 1,700 books to the city in exchange for a commitment from the city to keep the library open daily, provide a free public reading room, and include free reading for the county as well as the city.  The offer was accepted and in May of 1910, on September 14, the new Public Library in the ground floor of the Court House opened.

By 1961 the library collection had expanded to 153,214 books, pictures, clippings, classical records, and films.  There were 403 adult and 330 children new borrowers registered, as well as 160 new rural patrons, part of the 6,027 total registered borrowers.  Of the 36,000 books available for loan, about one-third were loaned each month.  Librarian Miss Johnson indicated that local patrons read about an average of 12 books per year from the library. 

One of those rural patrons may have been me.  Until my grandmother's death when I was five, we tended to shop in St. John, where she lived, but after her death, we shopped in Pratt most Saturdays, and I was a regular at the library. 

The city provided $10,000, and county provided $7,000, and gifts to the Library added another $308.70.  Also included in their budget were fines ($1,011.25), fees ($64.) and  charges for lost books ($33.85.)  The Library Board Members were:  Mrs. Paul Tupper, John H. Calbeck, Eldon Green, Miss Johnson, Dr. Julia Barbee, Miss Flavel Barner, Mrs. Don Brown, John Megaffin, and Jess Kennedy.

(I cannot help but notice as I share this information that many of the ladies are identified by only their last names, or if married, only by their husband's given name instead of their own.  That practice drives people trying to search their families' genealogy on the maternal side crazy, but it was very common even into the later decades of the 1900s!)

Today we have the beautiful library pictured at the top of this blog, recently renovated, and located next to the Vernon Filley Art Museum, making joint efforts to celebrate the arts possible!  

Kids at the Pratt Library
The Mission Statement of the Library states:  "The Mission of the Pratt Public Library is to foster lifelong learning by providing materials and services which will serve the educational, cultural, professional, and recreational needs of the community."

For more than a century, Pratt, Kansas has recognized the importance of supporting the cultural needs of the community.  The Library continues to perform its role in that commitment. 


Fred Whitehead said...

Very interesting, thank you. "Miss Johnson" (Oneda?) once urged me to check out Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead" which tells you something about her political views.

Kim said...

The Pratt Public Library was an integral part of my childhood. I remember going to the library when it was located in the courthouse. But the new library offered a whole shelf of Happy Hollister books and Encyclopedia Brown mysteries, and many other childhood favorites. It was an exciting time to visit the new facility every week. Libraries are still among my favorite places!