The Library was founded in 1882 when E. N. Morrill gave the city of Hiawatha $2,000 for a library. It opened May 29, 1882 in a room at the Morrill and Janes Bank, 6th and Oregon Streets, with 1,300 books.
In April 1907, the library moved into a new Carnegie building at 5th and Oregon. The Morrill family donated the site for the building as well as $13,000 toward the building construction. By now the library housed 13,000 volumes.
The library received a major bequest in 1948 when George Johannes willed a farm to the library. This gift has been a significant factor in the library's development.
The library became a member of the Northeast Kansas Library System [NEKLS] in 1966. The system offers many benefits to member libraries including Library Development Grants, continuing education opportunities for librarians and trustees, technology support and technical advice in many areas.
In 1967, the basement was remodeled and a new front entrance was constructed. This doubled the floor space of the library.
The library celebrated the nation's bicentennial in 1976 by reprinting Ruley's History of Brown County. In 1982, in celebration of the library's first 100 years, the Board of Trustees reissued E. N. Morrill's 1876 History of Brown County, Kansas. Patrons who attended the library's centennial open house also received a print of the Carnegie building by local artist Richard Moore.
In 1980, the Morrill Public Library was named as one of the community recipients of the Paul Bruning Trust. In 1986, with the book collection numbering 24,000, the library undertook a major renovation with funds from the Bruning Trust.
Completed in 1993, an addition of 5,840 square feet again doubled the space of the library. The project was financed with bequests, local donations, and a LSCA federal grant.
In 1999 the Trustees authorized a facility use study to determine the best use of the available space for program areas. At that time, library holdings of more than 35,000 items included books, periodicals, audiocassettes, videocassettes, and music CDs. The Library entered into a network agreement with NEKLS to provide direct high speed Internet connection.
In December of 2000 a newly renovated Bill & Bernard Martin Children's Library opened, providing an inviting space for kids to learn and grow. In 2001, The Merry Gay Riley Memorial Young Adult Collection was created, featuring a comfy lounge area and an enhanced fiction and non-fiction collection. Also in 2001, technology improvements included grouping the four public access computers in one area and setting up two OPAC stations. The current collection of over 43,000 items includes DVDs and books on CD. Nearly 5,300 people from throughout the area have active library cards.
The Morrill Public Library strives to be a Center for Lifelong Learning.
The Morrill Public Library is a source of Information, education, and recreation services, materials, and programs for all patrons.
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