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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  


Within a few years after Russell was settled in April, 1871, a circulating library was begun in the home of Mrs. F. S. Weed. This was in September, 1878. In May, 1879, a Russell paper advertised the "Russell Circulating Library," with subscriptions for the balance of the year available at $2.00. In July, 1881, a meeting was held at the Ackerman home "for the purpose of organizing a Literary Society with a public reading room and library as its ultimate goal." Only one woman's name is found in the records of a public library establishment in Russell and it is that of Miss Arabella Geer (later Mrs. Charles A. Wolcott), a native of Boston, Mass. Mrs. Wolcott, L. A. Parks, V. K. Hoover, E. L. Bouton and J. H. Franklin petitioned the State of Kansas and received a charter for a free public library in Russell on February 11, 1888. Books were donated and a small collection was opened to the public in the Nelson Wolcott Drug Store.
Carnegie Library: Russell, Kansas

J. C. Ruppenthal, a longtime library supporter in Russell, presented a petition with more than 50 signatures to the city council on February 21, 1900, asking that the question of establishing "a free public library and reading room" be submitted to the voters at the April 2, 1900 election. The measure passed by a vote of 205-72. The library was opened to the public March 1, 1901, in a building on Main Street. Furnishings and books were donated. The location was seen as prime, for, as the local paper reported, "With such a place at their disposal, young men can certainly have no excuse for loafing about the streets while the library is open until lO p.m. and strangers in the city waiting for night trains will have a place to spend a couple of hours in a profitable manner." The library was moved in March, 1905, to space in the Farmer's State Bank.
In the spring of 1905, J. C. Ruppenthal began correspondence with Andrew Carnegie, and on June 8, 1905, from his summer home at Skibo Castle in Scotland, Carnegie made an offer of $5,000.00 for a library.
Several lots were offered for sale to the library board, but a site at Main and Seventh Streets, the "old courthouse lots," was chosen and the county commissioners sold lots 6 and 7, Block 86, of the City of Russell to the library board for $900.00.
The building was designed by Paul O. Moratz, an architect in Bloomington, Ill. The contract was let to C. D. Lechner for $3,900.00. Work began in April, 1906, and the cornerstone was laid with no ceremony in May. The building was completed in March, 1907.
The library building was rectangular, one story above a raised basement, of native hard limestone. There was a small porch at the front entrance, and a tablet, surmounted above the door, bore the words