The Library Story

Library History

A Brief History of the Morton County Library

“A little library, growing larger every year, is an honorable part of a man’s history. It is a man’s duty to have books. A library is  not a luxury, but one of the necessaries of life.”
~Henry Ward Beecher

Our library, like so many libraries in the smaller southwest communities has struggled for survival due to lack of funding, depression years, dustbowl and economic challenges.

Quoted from a Tri-State News Article:

“The Elkhart Public Library was formed under the auspices of the Ladies Coterie Club of Elkhart, as a part of its educational work. Although the Coterie Club was instigator of the library, it is not a Coterie library, but a public library.
The present Association was formed in 1922. The library was first located in a small, one-room building (Doerr Building) located on Main Street.
The library at present consists of books donated by individuals of Elkhart, numbering about 250; a set of books from the Kansas State Traveling Library; a set of fiction books donated by the Coterie Club and a good dictionary donated by the Working Girl’s Club. The treasury holds about $75.00 to be invested in additional books.
Although the beginning is small the association expects to advance with the town and in a few years own its own building and several thousand volumes. This can be accomplished only by the aid and cooperation of the Citizens of Elkhart.
The purpose of the library is to help make Elkhart a better town in which to live. Elkhart is one of the best towns in Kansas but “day by day” in every way, it is growing better and better and the library will be a great help. The library is for the use of every man, woman and child in Elkhart and if it does not contain the books you need or want, tell the association and they will be purchased as soon as possible.
We hope that after reading this article, every family will enroll voluntarily as a member of the association and start reading the books and be a booster.”

The library moved from place to place until the 1930’s when W.P.A. work project built the Adobe City Hall. The library occupied a room at the South end of the City Hall.
Quoting from Zinnia Frieholtz, librarian for 25 years, book, “Memories From a Long Life”:

  “The ladies of Coterie and P.E.O. cooperated in forming a revolving book fund for the library, whereby each club bought one book to be displayed on the pay shelf to be rented our for a small fee which averaged one book per month from the income. Each club selected books to represent their own club as their turn revolved around alphabetically.”

In 1968, the city board began to investigate the library becoming a county library and joining the Southwest Kansas Library System. An evaluation was made and the library was moved from the City Hall into the former post office building.
The Morton County Library with branches in Rolla and Richfield has grown into one of the best Kansas libraries of it’s size serving readers from all over the area.
In 1984, the library moved into a brand new 6,500 sq. ft. modern library building next to the city park.  A Dedication Ceremony was held for the new library on October 12, 1984.
Through the years, the dedication of the librarians have made our library into one to be proud of by providing the public with many services.

Former librarians include: Thelma Nason, Georgia Scofield, Irene Kuder, Zinnia Frieholtz, Helen Thompson, Lee Romig, Phyllis Clair, Katharine Commerford, Karen Leopp, Virginia Johnson

Morton County Library Staff:
Director: Toni Jones Bressler, Barbara Luck, Hailey Carrillo & Kobie Ellis

Rolla Branch:
Director: Toni Jones-Bressler & Phoebe Brummett