HISTORY OF THE LIBRARY
Books and Much More
In 1903, citizens of the small town of Springfield, Missouri, watched
a dream come true when the granite cornerstone of the new Public
Library was laid. The ceremony was the culmination of three years
of negotiations with prominent library philanthropist Andrew Carnegie,
whose $50,000 contribution was the financial cornerstone of the
The Springfield Public Library officially opened in 1905 with 700
books and an annual circulation of 8,657. More than a century later,
the Springfield-Greene County Library boasts an annual circulation
of 3,926,602 and has expanded its holdings to over 550.000 volumes --
which includes audiobooks, compact discs, DVDs and toys
as well as books.
During this time the Library's commitment to public service
was also growing. It has always been the Library's mission
to provide citizens with free access to information for their recreational,
educational, cultural and business needs. To meet these needs the
Library offered many innovative services -- Walking
Books, delivery of library materials to the homebound, a circulating Educational Toy Collection, Summer
Reading Club for kids and computerized Reference
The Springfield-Greene County Library: An Historical Timeline
- 1901 - On February 15, 50 prominent businessmen and influential
citizens meet in the office of Springfield mayor Ralph Walker
and enthusiastically support a plan to start a library. Philanthropist
Andrew Carnegie agrees to give $50,000 if the city provides $5,000
annually for the purchase of books and the maintenance of the
- 1903 - A site for the main library is purchased for $3,250.
The money is raised by popular subscription with the largest individual
donation only $100. The cornerstone is laid and construction begins
on the stately structure at 397 E. Central.
- 1905 - On March 12, the Springfield Public Library opens with
limited hours and one staff member. The library owns a total of
700 volumes and boasts a circulation of 8,657 this first year.
- 1937 - The city library is enlarged to its present size under
a Works Progress Administration project.
- 1945 - The northwest Greene County town of Ash Grove starts
its city library at 101 E. Main.
- 1951 - The Greene County Library, started in the basement of
the Court House, moves into new headquarters. The two-story, 18-room
house at 1451 Benton, known as the Silsby house, is eventually
sold to Cox Medical Center.
- 1955 - The Greene County Library initiates a bookmobile program.
- 1956 - The Ash Grove City Library becomes part of the Greene
- 1957 - The Springfield Public Library opens the Plaza Branch,
a storefront library which serves patrons in the expanding southeast
portion of the city.
- 1961 - The Board of the Greene County Library contracts services
from the Springfield Public Library, and both libraries operate
under the supervision of the director of the city library.
- 1961 - The Greene County Library opens the Republic Branch,
a consolidation of book deposits held at several locations in
that western Greene County city.
- 1966 - The Missouri State Library established the Ozark Pioneer
Library system, to be headquartered at Springfield's main
library. This system, which coordinates services of public libraries
in 13 surrounding counties, is the forerunner of the Southwest
Missouri Library Network.
- 1967 - The Greene County Library, having outgrown its headquarters
on Benton, opens a new library at 630 W. Kearney, currently the
- 1971 - To better serve the needs of south Springfield, the Public
Library opens the Brentwood Branch at 2214 Brentwood Blvd. This
branch replaces the storefront Plaza Branch.
- 1971 - The Greene County Library and the Springfield Public
Library boards decide that the libraries could operate more efficiently
as one entity, and merge to create the Springfield-Greene County
- 1977 - To meet the needs of the city's growing southwest
side, the library creates the Parkcrest Branch, an "immobile"
bookmobile parked in the Parkcrest Shopping Center.
- 1978 - The Main Library is renovated to increase accessibility
with the addition of a ramp and an elevator.
- 1983 - Kickapoo Prairie Branch opens at 620 W. Republic Road,
replacing the Parkcrest bookmobile. This library, built entirely
with local funds, becomes the first library in the system to be
- 1983 - The district goes online with a CLSI automated circulation
system, and the card catalogs are phased out.
- 1985 - Republic Branch moves to a larger storefront location
at 221 W. Highway 60.
- 1991 - The Library replaces the outdated automation system with
the new Dynix automated circulation system, increasing computer
memory and capability.
- 1992 - Willard Branch opens in a storefront in the East Shopping
- 1992 - Library support services relocate from the Main Library
to a newly-constructed addition to the Kickapoo Prairie Branch,
freeing up more public service space at the Main Library.
- 1994 - Construction is completed on an addition to the Kearney
- 1994 - Library-sponsored Ozarks Regional Information Online
Network (ORION) goes online.
- 1995 - The Library launches its site on the World Wide Web,
which can now be found at the URL thelibrary.org.
- 1996 - Construction is completed on an addition to the Brentwood
Branch, and its parking lot is expanded.
- 1997 - The Library migrates its automation system to the Innovative
Interfaces Inc. system, and later implements a web-based catalog.
- 1999 - The Library Center, the District's new flagship
facility, opens at 4653 S. Campbell. Reference, local history
and genealogy services are moved from the Main Library. Support
services, including the administrative offices, technical services
and the Outreach Department are also located in the new facility.
It features a cafe and a gift shop. The facility replaces the
Kickapoo Prairie Branch.
- 1999 - Main Library is renamed the Midtown Carnegie Branch.
- 2000 - Fair Grove Branch opens in the northeast Greene County
town's city hall complex at 81 Orchard Blvd.
- 2003 - The Library Express, a 30-foot long satellite-equipped
bus, becomes part of the Library system and brings computer classes,
storytimes and other programs to patrons.
- 2003 - The Library Station, the District's newest destination
Library opens at 2535 N. Kansas Expressway. The automotive repair
collection, a comprehensive law collection and a local history
and genealogy department are housed at the facility. It features
a gift shop and a full-scale Panera Bread. The facility replaces
the Kearney Branch Library.
- 2004 - The District celebrates the 100th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone of the Midtown Carnegie Branch.
- 2005 - Riverbluff Cave, a prehistoric find in Greene County, is unveiled through videoconferencing at the Library Center; Wi-Fi is installed systemwide.
- 2006 - Photographs of Frisco train engines, employee record cards, depots and more are digitized and available on the Library's web site and is soon searched out by people from around the world.
- 2008 - The Park Central Branch, a new urban concept in library service and the ninth facility in the District, opens in March on Springfield's downtown square.
- 2008 - The tenth branch in the northeast town of Strafford opens in August.
- 2009 - A new Willard Branch, a few yards from the present facility in the East Shopping Center, opens in July.
- 2009 - A new Republic Branch, at 921 North Lindsey, opens October 31.