The Spearville Library operated as a club library for 63 years from 1929 to 1992. Prior to the establishment of the club library, newspaper accounts list a couple of libraries that existed in Spearville.
In 1901 Spearville had a library in the Spearville News office with fifty books from the State Library’s Traveling Library service. The State Library provided books to communities in rural areas without a public library.
The Spearville Library Association was organized in 1913 and a library was located in a corner of the high school building. The library was open one evening a week with books from the Traveling Library and from donations by the SLA members.
The club library’s beginnings started in March 1926 when women from seven clubs in the community met to organize a new club. The new club was called the Council of Clubs. The new club chose to sponsor, begin and support a much needed library as their main project.
After years of hard work and planning the Spearville Library opened for business on February 2, 1929. The 225 volume library was located in a room rented from the lumber yard on Main Street.
Many women and girls, usually unpaid, served as librarians. In 1936 the librarian was paid under the National Youth Administration program. The NYA was a New Deal agency that operated as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The NYA provided work training for youth between ages 16 & 25. WPA funds were used to pay the librarian until March 1942. As unemployment decreased because of WW II, NYA activities not contributing to the war effort were dropped and the librarian was laid off.
The library was housed at several businesses in town until they moved to their own room in the newly built city building in 1939. The city building was built with WPA labor and funds from a memorial bequest to the city by Eva Woodbury. Part of the bequest was used to furnish and equip space for the library.
In January 1968 the Spearville Library was one of the 21 libraries in southwest Kansas to join the newly formed Southwest Kansas Library System. The SWKLS was formed to improve and strengthen the libraries in the area and this was surely the case with the Spearville Library. System Aid Development Funds were used for the librarian’s salary, new books, equipment and furnishings. The rotating books and the Kansas Information Circuit (ILL) services were very popular with the patrons.
The club library continued to grow under the support and guidance of the Council of Clubs and the SWKLS. The quarters of the library and the City Clerk were switched in 1969 because of the library’s need for a larger room. The city generously furnished the room and utilities for the library during the years that the library resided in the city building.
The Spearville Library became a Township Library at an election held on April 2, 1991. After being a club library for 63 years, the library was finally a legal library supported by tax funds!
The fundraising days weren’t over though. They were actually just starting. Plans were being made to move the library to a bigger building. A special election was held on June 9, 1992 authorizing the Township Board to purchase a vacant restaurant building on Main Street to house the Library. The vote carried and a renovation fund was started to remodel the interior of the new library building.
Over $20,000 was raised for the renovation fund and the library received a $25,000 grant from the Lions Club International Foundation.
The library moved from their 574 square foot room in the city building to their present 3000 square foot building on June 12, 1994.
In its heyday the Council of Clubs was made up of 225 women members from 10 community clubs. A good portion of the women in the community have either served on the library board or helped with the Council of Clubs.