Photo Courtesy of Johnson County Museum

Leading Ladies

1889 - The roots of the Olathe Public Library can be found in the activities of the Ladies Reading Circle, founded in 1883. The Ladies Reading Circle was founded by three Olathe women: Mrs. John P. St. John, wife of the former Governor of Kansas, her sister-in-law,Mrs.Emma Parker, and Mrs.Celestia Stevenson. The Ladies Reading Circle was thefirst of the Olathe Federated Women's Clubs, and is still active today.

Although a subscription library was started by the Olathe Library Association in the 1870s, the Ladies Reading Circle was the first to try to establish a public library.In 1889, members began that effort by obtaining a loan of 50 books from the State Library for a six-month period.


1909 - On August 2, 1909, the mayor and city council appointed atwelve-memberlibrary board. Mrs. T.L. Hogue was appointed to appear before the council at its September meeting to recommend a 4/10ths of a mill for library purposes. The levy was passed; however, they were unable to find a suitable building to house the new library. The committee decided to contact Andrew Carnegie, who responded with the following message:

"If the city agrees by resolution of council to maintain a free public library at cost of not less than $1,000 a year and provide a suitable site for the building, Mr. Carnegie will be glad to give $10,000.00 to erect a free public library building for Olathe."

1911 - On March 3, 1911, at the request of the library board, the city council agreed to donate a lot at 124 North Chestnut, where the main post office currently stands, for the site of the library. Until the building could be completed and furnished, the council granted the use of two rooms on the second floor of the city hall. In November, the library board appointed a committee to buy furniture, not to exceed $300, and an ad was placed in the local paper for the position of a librarian at a salary of $30 a month.

Olathe Mirror, November 1911
Courtesy of the OlatheNews