The Cass County Public Library found its start on the April 1947 school ballot where residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of the establishment of a county library. It was deemed an essential resource for Cass County’s school children. The newly minted library district was to be funded by a “One-Mill” tax on property that amounted to $1 of tax for every $1,000 of property value. By the next year, the library was so well-funded that the Kansas City Star ranked the Cass County Public Library third behind Jackson and St. Louis counties in most available funds.
Prior to this, Harrisonville and other local communities were already served by their own much smaller libraries that closed and donated their materials to the new library. In September of 1947, the Library Board unanimously selected Dorothea F. Hyle, former head of circulation at the Kansas City Public Library, to be the new County Librarian. Soon after, Hotel Harrisonville, located on the northeast corner of the town square, was chosen as home of the library’s first and flagship branch. An Opening Tea was held on Saturday, December 13, 1947, welcoming nearly 500 Cass Countians, 131 of which became the charter members of the library.
By the middle of the following year, additional branches had been established in Pleasant Hill, Archie, Drexel, and Garden City. The much anticipated library Bookmobile started service in May of 1948 serving 55 rural schools and making 86 stops per month. This was celebrated with a parade through the town square in Harrisonville. Over the next decade, deposit libraries were opened in Peculiar, Raymore, East Lynne, Gunn City, Strasburg, Main City, Creighton, Cleveland, Pleasant Valley, Westline and Freeman. The independently operated Belton Municipal Library did not merge with the Cass County Public Library to form the Belton branch until 1968. Later in 2004, this branch along with the Raymore and Peculiar branches were combined to create the Northern Resource Center located in Belton. The Genealogy Branch, founded with the assistance of Mary B. B. Crouch, opened its doors for the first time in April 1994. Additional funding and many of the branch’s original materials were donated from Crouch’s personal collection.
Though it began as a means of providing educational and cultural resources to county schools, the Cass County Public Library of today serves much the same purpose as it did when it was first founded. CCPL continues to provide access to information and resources to enrich the lives of patrons in communities all across Cass County, despite no longer being the third most well-funded library in the state. At any CCPL branch, patrons can benefit from services such as early childhood literacy, adult education classes, after school activities for children and teens, and summer reading programs. More patrons than ever before are visiting the library and borrowing more materials than ever before as we continue our commitment to the communities we serve.
Additional Library History
The Library’s First Years, 1947–1950
From the founding of the very first library branch in Hotel Harrisonville, to the parade celebrating our original bookmobile, the Cass County Public Library’s first three years were some of its busiest. Our origin is recounted here in detail with the help of original newspapers, images, and additional primary resources.
A Pictorial History
Experience the history of the library for yourself in photos. We have several collections of historical photos available over at HistoryPin where they have been geotagged according to their locations around the county. These collections can be viewed here.