About Us

Manhattan is a library town. People support and use their libraries, and have done so for almost as long as the town has been in existence. Before Kansas even became a state, the first Manhattan library organization was incorporated through an act of the Territorial Legislature. And the public library has grown and prospered over the years.
A Bit of History

1856 – First Manhattan library organization formed. Membership was open, for a fee of $1.00, to “all persons of good moral character.”

1904 – Carnegie Library opened with a collection of 1,000 volumes. Its director until 1942 was Mary Cornelia Lee, whose starting salary was $35 a month.

1937 – The librarian’s report complained that a new building was needed “because of crowded conditions.” The town had increased three-fold during this period.

1951 – Floods caused extensive loss of books and periodicals, as well as heavy damage to the building.

1966 – Manhattan Public Library became resource center for the newly established North Central Kansas Libraries System, serving a twelve-county region.

1969 – Dedication of new library building at the corner of Juliette and Poyntz Avenues.

1976 – Automated circulation system introduced.

1980 – Building remodeled.

1985 – With service hours extended to Sunday afternoons, library is open 73 hours a week.

1989 – Automated catalog introduced.

1996 – Construction begun on $3.7 million library expansion project. Collection size: 200,000 volumes; registered borrowers: 50,000; annual circulation: 500,000; staff: 41 FTEs; budget: $1.25 million

1998 – Dedication of expansion and renovation.

Fun Quotable Library Facts:

804,120 items were checked out in 2012, representing a 5.7% increase over 2011

On the average, 1,000 people visited the library each day to check out materials, user computers, attend programs, find answers, get information, take tours, and use meeting rooms.

99% of library users considered the library a welcoming and comfortable place.

More than 41,527 people have library cards, representing over 77% of the Manhattan population.

24,961 children, teens, and adults attend library programs - including puppet shows, story times, summer reading activities, book discussion groups, and films

An average of 1,881 people used public computers every week

The library is the place to meet: meeting rooms were used 1,219 times in 2012

Library Bill of Rights
Manhattan Public Library subscribes to the American Library Association’s “Library Bill of Rights.”
The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services:

1. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.
2. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
3. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
4. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgement of free expression and free access to ideas.
5. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.
6. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations or individuals or groups requiring their use.
(Adopted by ALA Council June 18, 1948; amended 1961, 1967, 1980)