About The Lawrence Kansas Library

The library in Lawrence Kansas was established originally in the form of a “subscription-based” library in the year 1854. In 1904, it changed into a “free” public-library when Andrew Carnegie donated funds for a new-building. The Carnegie Library became the primary headquarters for the NEKLS as well as the Main Library in Lawrence until the year 1972, when the building was replaced by a modern and new library.


The City of Lawrence opened the 1st library, a month after the city was founded in October of 1854. The membership to begin with cost $1 for a year with the choice of a $25 lifetime membership. Amos Adams Lawrence the founder of Lawrence, brought a load of books on a flatboat, to build up the collection in the year 1855.

In the year 1863 the library burned down similar to most of the other buildings in the city, when William Quantrill attacked this city in the event which was later named the Lawrence massacre. The new library was reorganized the year that followed from the house of J.S. Boughton and funds were raised quickly to construct a new library building. In 1866, an association was created for the library and the lease on the new building allowed the library to have a new-home for its collection.

When the library started to undergo a renewed growth, the collection started to outgrow the facilities. With the 6,000 volumes the space to store all these books started running out and the $1 yearly fee was no longer enough to provide the funding needed for another building. Peter Emery who had an interest for library science petitioned Andrew Carnegie a philanthropist for the funds that were dedicated for erecting the new library. Carnegie agreed to this request and went onto donate $27,500 provided that the library became a free public library. He also dedicated $2,750 every year to the maintenance and upkeep.

On the completion of Carnegie library, the Lawrence Public Library experienced many years of growth, By the year 1922, the interest from children increased so fast that another room was soon added to this library for their exclusive use. By the year 1936, around 40% of the population in the city had their own library cards.

On the 10 November, 2010 a budget for $18 million was proposed by the LBT (Library Board of Trustees) which was based on that since its construction in 1972, the population had doubled. This proposal was eagerly accepted by the voters and renovations started in the next year, taking 4 years to complete.