HISTORY OF THE OVERBROOK PUBLIC LIBRARY
The Cosmos Federated Club was instrumental in organizing the first Overbrook Library in the small back room of the original Kansas State Bank building in 1928. This was a volunteer project with each member of the club contributing time to keep the Library open and donating books for patron use. Later the Searchlight Federated Club and the Fidelis Federated Club were formed and took their turns in keeping the Library open.
High school girls gave of their time over the years to keep the Library open. Mrs. Lorraine Piper Gaskell served as the first paid Librarian from 1946-1948.
In 1950 the three Federated Clubs entered the Build a Better Community Contest of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. Mrs. W.E. Topping, chairman of the committee, organized the citywide housecleaning and improvements. Their entry placed second in the Class B division, nationally, as well as first place in Kansas. They received $300.00 prize money from Kansas and $3,000.00 nationally. Among the improvements that came about was the building of a township building to house the new fire truck. The women suggested a room be built on the north side of this building to house a library. On May 24, 1950 the new library facility was launched with a silver tea. The Betterment Committee, made up of representatives of the three clubs, was responsible for the interior finishing and furnishing of the new Library. Many fund raising projects and volunteer hours went into this project. Miss Edith Spielman was chairman of the Library Board at this time. In 1955 the first story hour and summer reading program was held.
In 1964 Vivian Thurber accepted the Librarian position; and served until February 1974. During this time the State of Kansas formed a library system throughout the state. Overbrook became a member of the Northeast Kansas Library System. This brought many improvements to the Library. A bookmobile came to town once a month. We could borrow books from other libraries and Board members were given the opportunity to attend library workshops. And new books were placed in our Library to keep.
On April 6, 1971, the citizens of Overbrook voted and passed the following question: “Shall the City of Overbrook, Osage county, Kansas establish and maintain a municipal library as provided by law.” A Library Board consists of seven members with alternating terms of four years are appointed by the City of Overbrook council. Since that time the Overbrook Public Library has been generously funded by the city of Overbrook, NEKLS, the Overbrook Community Chest, and memorials.
In 1973 the Directors of the Kansas State Bank donated their former building to the City of Overbrook to house the city offices and the Library.
Thelma Sloan was hired as Librarian in February of 1974. The fall months of 1974 were spent renovating the front room of the city building to be used as the new Library. The Library Board Members and other volunteers provided carpenter work and manpower for cleaning and moving books and furnishings. The Community Betterment Club provided funds for the new steel shelving for the adult section. Open House was held on February 9, 1975. In the next few years the Library grew by “leaps and bounds” in volumes of books and the number of patrons. Once again we found our quarters becoming cramped so we expanded to the City Council room with shelving for the Adult Fiction and held story hour and the summer reading programs across the street in the new Kansas State Bank basement. Additional hours were added and Joanne Allen became Assistant Librarian.
In 1986 faced with increased usage and more volumes, members of the Library Board approached the city council in an effort to find a new location. In November of 1986, a bond issue was passed, by the citizens of Overbrook to renovate the Tutcher Magic Gas building. The Library Board called on the state library to advise them so that the citizens of Overbrook could have a modern library and a library that could grow with the community.
Again many hours of volunteer labor were used to clean and move the Library in April of 1987, to its present location, 317 Maple, on mainstreet. The generous contribution of the 1986 Overbrook Centennial committee made it possible to purchase new shelving for the children’s department and a copy machine. Memorials provided most of the other furnishings. With the spacious quarters, we are able to hold story hour, summer reading programs and other educational programs in the back room. We have a display room for monthly exhibits of individual arts and crafts or collections.
Thelma Sloan retired as librarian in December of 1988, at which time Jan Gresnick was named Librarian, then, Barbara Read was hired and in April of 1991 the Library Board hired Marilyn Anderson of Overbrook as Director and librarian. Marilyn retired in November of 2004 as the director. The Board hired Peggy Waldman as the director who served until February 2014. The library continues to grow. Due to the generous donations from the Kansas State Bank and the 1st Security Bank and to a NEKLS grant the library purchased computers for our patrons to use. The library has added a large print section, audio books on cassettes and CDs, CD-Rom’s, movies in VHS and DVD forms, MP3 Players, a copier, a fax machine, printers, and a meeting room for the community. In 1990 the community formed the Overbrook Library Friends group that helps with the annual book sale and sponsors author nights and other programming the Friends have also purchased a Fax machine for the library patrons. The Overbrook Library Foundation was formed in the fall 2004 to insure that Overbrook Public Library will be here in the community for a long time to come. In 2008 the back room of the library was carpeted and new flooring was put in the bathroom. In 2009 the Library joined NEXPRESS, which involves a large group of libraries in Northeast Kansas, to share there resources with one another through a shared catalog. Also in 2009 the library joined a state wide courier service to move items between all the libraries. In 2010 the Library started carrying video games.
In 2010 Claudie and Glen Norton left the library a trust close to a million dollars, three fourths of the trustee can be used to remodel or build a new library. The other fourth will be put into an endowment to be use to help maintain the facilities.
Donna Swisher served as acting director from March to June 2014, when Galen Worthington, a graduate from Emporia State University School of Library and Information Science, was hired by the Library Board to become the new director.
The new library opened in 2014 with the addition of a large community room which includes a catering kitchen, a conference room, and expanded main library. With the new facility, an Assistant Librarian was needed and Pamela Johnston, from Topeka (formerly from Overbrook) was hired in November 2014.
Galen Worthington served as Library Director from June 2014 to June 2016. Assistant Librarian Pamela Johnston and Board Member Lynn Drake were appointed co-interim directors from June to August 2016 during the search for a new Director.
July 25, 2016, new Library Director Kyle Sederstrom was hired. Kyle holds a Master of Library Science degree from Emporia State University.