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  Table of Contents about Andrew Carnegie About Allen Gardiner, author of The Carnegie Legacy in Kansas Further information about Libraries featured in this book Carnegie Legacy in Kansas logo: Link that takes you to the home page  


In the 1880s a Chautauqua Circle gave an entertainment and raised funds to purchase 25 books, the start of a circulating library. In 1889, J. W. Sponable, president of the Miami County National Bank, offered 100 books if the library would organize under the state laws. An election was held in April, 1890, for this purpose and a tax of 1.25 mills was levied. The library was opened in a room in the Farmers' and Mechanics' Bank building, and was moved in 1901 to a room in the city hall. In 1901, Mayor Walthall appealed to Miss Helen Gould, daughter of Jay Gould, the railroad industrialist. She responded that she was interested in Osawatomie because of the many Missouri Pacific Railway employees and would be pleased to give $500.00 for books. This amount of money paid for the purchase of 700 volumes.
Photo: Carnegie Library in Osawatomie Kansas

In 1910, C. C. Clevenger and Floyd B. Lee instituted a movement to obtain a Carnegie library. The board of education gave a tract of land 76 feet square to the city for library purposes, and the Carnegie Corporation offered $7,500.00 for a building on April 16, 1910. In order to raise the $750.00 in annual revenue necessary to meet the pledge to Mr. Carnegie, the library had to pledge to raise whatever was necessary, the present 1.25 mill levy being insufficient. The resolution, plans and specifications were forwarded to Carnegie and approved by him in late autumn, 1912.
George P, Washburn and Son, Ottawa, were employed as the architects for the building. The contract was let to Fordyce Brothers of Paola. The cornerstone was laid April 26, 1913, and the building was dedicated Sept. 12, 1913.
The one-and-a-half story building on a raised basement was rectangular in plan and constructed of brick with a stone water-table. Two stone columns supported the porch above the front entrance, and leaded glass windows covered the area above the front doors.
In 1979, the Carnegie library building was considered "dilapidated and beyond repair, and serve[d] as a blighting influence in the neighborhood." The building was declared unsafe by the fire marshal and deemed uninsurable by insurance companies. The city appealed to the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development and received funds through Community Development Block Grants for a new building. The new building was erected in 1980, and the old Carnegie building was razed.
The library owns 19,200 volumes and serves a population of 4,500. 27,500 items were circulated in 1984. The 1985 budget is $34,850.00.