Library History

The Friday Reading Club originated the Thayer Library. The Club itself was organized in 1894 and federated in 1899. The library was started by the club women in April 1896. The first library consisted of 24 books donated by the Friday Reading Club ladies. At first an upstairs room was used, then a small building where the water tower now stands. In 1920, the club bought the old bank for library use for $900.00. Dinners, food sales, lectures, and other social gatherings, and the sale of 2,000 Friday Reading Club cookbooks raised money. Library cards were sold and people were encouraged to donate books to enlarge the library. The library had 1,500 books when it opened in its new location.

For librarians, the club members took turns. A special election was held October 7, 1975, to make the library a city library with a 2 mill levy for the City. Eighty-one people voted “yes”, and six people voted “no.” The library became a city library in 1976 with Frances Hallenberg as the first paid librarian. All finances, up to this time, had been raised by the Friday Reading Club.

Lucile Wagner, who was head of the South East Kansas Library System in Iola, met with the F.R.C. to select a name for the library. The name “Thayer Friday Reading Club City Library” was selected. The library is governed by the Kansas State Library, the South East Kansas Library System (SEKLS), and a local library board of seven members appointed by the mayor with the approval of the city council. Until 1993, all board members were members of the F.R.C.

The old library was torn down and the library moved down the street east to the Neal McCoy Building. When the Rural Vision building was built, the library moved into the west end of it in 1980. When Rural Vision wanted to expand, the City renovated the south end of the former Case Building owned by the city for the library. This project required money. People in Thayer and the surrounding area were very concerned about helping support the library. To start the fund raising, John and Joann White held an auction sale and the Booster Club held a hamburger fry. Each event raised $1,000.00. Then the “Friends of the Library” organized, and they were given cash donations by people in the local community, Chanute, Parsons, and the surrounding area. The library moved to its new location January 1, 1993.

Frances Hallenberg retired in 1977, and Anna Peterson was librarian until her death in 1998. Janet Stafford was hired as librarian and held that position until 2012. Suprena Cheshier was hired as library director that same year.

 

Leave a Reply