Library Postcards: Civic Pride in a Lost America
Kansas and Nebraska Public Libraries

New and old, the non-Carnegie libraries of these two states now have their own page.



Atchison, KS library

Still in use, with an addition.
Surrounding writing on its wall - Left: Progress Art Culture. Front: Religion (Atchison Library) Science.
Deco style with a distracting chimney (now gone) and a dressed limestone lower storey.

Henry McGrew Printing 'chrome' card.


Colby, KS City Hall

Colby has had a gap in library services. The 1911 iteration closed in 1926. Then, the Colby Public Library opened in another building, moving to City Hall in 1936.
Replaced in 1964 by the Pioneer Memorial Library.

This is really an odd building. The foundation is limestone, but the upper section may be cement block. The overhang is a neon sign, like something from a dance hall or small theatre.
1-79 is typed on the plate, but unless this is a reprint, it's probably not the date. And although this is a standard postcard size, the reverse is blank.


Horton, KS library

No who here.

Still in use, with the additions of a new awning, a bike rack, and a trash can. It's very close stylistically to the Classical Revival Carnegie plan.

Although the card was mailed in 1956, it may date back to the 1930s, or else Hortonians were experts at maintaining their vehicles.


Hutchinson, KS library (L) This Curt Teich 'C.T. American Art' linen finish card dates from 1951. The leaves on the trees were added during retouching.
(R) E.C. Kropp card, never mailed.
Hutchinson, KS library

Replaced the Carnegie library, ca. 1946.

Much of the architecture of the 1940s was very utilitarian, but still handsome. I especially like the raised aluminum letters and the clock on this example, which may still be in use.

Junction City

Junction City, KS

Early Curt Teich card, mailed in 1918.

I suspect the library may have been in the upstairs of one of these buildings.


Liberal, KS Library (L) Chrome card from Kansas Distributing.
(R) Dexter Press card, also post-1959 remodeling.
Liberal, KS Library

Isn't this one of the most fabulous library fronts ever? Architect George L. Pitcher constructed it out of concrete in 1954. In addition to the mock Statue of Liberty, the left-most statue is named 'Pioneer Mother.'

Isn't this one of the greatest library's history pages ever?


Kinsley, KS library

Mid-Century Modern.

According to its web site, its roots date back to 1885, but as a city library, to 1927.

Although this library looks like a school, it's a combination city hall and library, built in 1954. No accessibility issues here!
The library is still in use.

Card by W.C. Pine, of Independence, MO.

Osage City (Lieber Public Library)

Osage City, KS library

Charming history.

Its original collection was gathered in baby buggies by the Sorosis Club in 1922. Lieber, first name unknown, contributed this building prior to the 1929 crash, but the volunteer library was finished anyway. Its volunteer status and management by the Sorosis Club ended in 1968.
Beginning in 1970, two staff members ran the building. The 1998 bond issue provided for the 2000 replacement building.

Another card by W.C. Pine.

Sabetha (Mary Cotton Public Library)

Mary Cotton Public Library

Postcard mailed in 1941.

I'm not finding a great deal of information on the Library. Although it has a website, its 2009 renovation photos are behind a Picasa wall. However, a 2002 city page shows a rather bedraggled ochre brick building, sans trees. I suspect these were lost in a 1998 tornado.

Smith Center

City Hall and Library, Smith Center, Kansas

Moved from one combination building to the Srader Center, another combination building.

Curt Teich card.

Stafford (Nora E. Larabee Memorial Library)

Public Library, Stafford, Kan. (L, above) This card has a pen date on the reverse of Dec. 17, 1908. Notice that it lacks the stained glass portrait.
(R, above) This photocard shows not only the portrait, but 'LIBRARY' on the side window (now replaced by an addition). Two little girls sit on the front steps.
Not visible on either card are the gargoyle rainspouts the building supposedly features.
Nora E. Larrabee Memorial Library
Public Library, Stafford, Kan. (L, below) Tinted A.H. Roby card, copyright 1908. Not mailed until 1930, however.

Larabee is the correct spelling.
You don't often know the background, and especially the cause of death (TB), of the person memorialized by a library. Her stained glass portrait still hangs in the same window as it did in the card at right, below.

Built in 1906, the local newspaper, for some insane reason, railed against the city accepting the memorial library. Finally, it was accepted under one weird stipulation: that in perpetuity, the Stafford Courier editor and descendants could never serve on the library board.


Three older postcards feature the second library location.

Old Topeka library In 1870, the men and women of Topeka disagreed about the purpose of a library. The ladies' vision won. By 1872, they were gracious enough to let the men attend their board meetings.
In 1883, the featured building was built on the grounds of the statehouse, and in 1885, some yahoo tried to burn it down. Hooray! for Romanesque architecture.
He failed.
By 1925, the state governor tried to oust the Library from the state property.
He failed.
After the successor building was opened in 1953, the state legislature voted to demolish the old library.
They succeeded.
Old Topeka library
Old Topeka library (L) Charming Hall Stationery Co. card, showing an Aesthetic Movement background.
New Topeka library

Postcard, with typed message, mailed in 1968 to the Bibliographical Center for Research, in Denver.

This building was expanded in 1976. The second expansion (1998-2002) was designed by noted architect Michael Graves.

History from the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library web site. Kudos to its author!


Wichita, KS library

Replacement for the Carnegie building. Still in use; possibly renovated.

Dexter Press chrome card.


Central City (Hards Memorial Library)

Hards Memorial Library, Central City, NE (L) Possibly an E.C. Kropp photo postcard.
(R) Unidentified photo postcard.
Hards Memorial Library, Central City, NE

Replaced. The Library's domain seems to have been taken over by the city.

Fremont (Keene Memorial Library)

Fremont, NE library

Replacement for the Carnegie building.

Dexter Press card for Dunlap Post Card.


Hastings, NE Public Library (L) Tribune Graphic Arts card, mailed in 1967.
(R) Pospehil Card Service card.
Hastings, NE Public Library

Replaced the Carnegie building in 1963. In 2013, the Library is still seeking funding for a renovation/ expansion.


Imperial, NE library

Replaced by the Lied Imperial Public Library.

Auburn Greeting postcard.


Bennett Martin Library, Lincoln, NE

Replaced 'Old Main,' nickname for the Carnegie building, between 1960 and 1965.

Dexter Press postcard from 1965. The photo by Larry Witt just screams Mid-Century Modern, doesn't it?

Nebraska City (Morton-James Public Library)

Morton-James Public Library

The Library's history page has some admitted gaps, but is definite that the red brick building was erected in 1896, gained a three storey stack room in 1932, a subterranean children's room in 1975, and a ca. 2002 addition.

'Morton' refers to Joy Morton, the Morton Salt company founder, whose even more famous philanthropic gift was Morton Arboretum, in Lisle, Illinois.

1906 is quite early for a commercial photo card, by Olson Photograph Co. of Plattsmouth, NE.


W. Dale Clark library, Omaha, NE (L) Published by The Simplicity Co., of Chicago.
(R) Published by Dexter Press in 1977.
Omaha, NE library

The library was founded in 1877, but this outstanding building might not date from then. We do know that it was replaced in 1976 by the 124,500 sq. ft. building shown at right.


York, NE library (L) Photo card, mailed in 1908.
(R) This entire back postcard was mailed in 1907, and shows off the vaguely Romanesque architecture to advantage.
York, NE library

The Woods library building was built in 1902, remodeled, and expanded in 1931. Replaced ca. 1986 by the Kilgore Memorial Library.