Library History


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In 1900 there was an effort to have a Carnegie Library in Richmond, however, the measure was not passed by voters.
The Literary and Civic Improvement Club took on the responsibility of providing reading material to the public.  The group opened the first library in the basement of the Methodist Church.
The library was relocated to the first floor of the Woman's Club Building.

The Richmond Business and Professional Women’s Club carried forth the idea of establishing a public library as a project for public improvement for the county. In April, they brought the measure to the ballot.  As a result of that measure, county taxpayers voted a one-mill tax for the establishment of the Ray County Library.  
The Ray County Court appointed the first Library Board.
On July 15th, the County Library officially opened. They had no books and no location of their own.  Luckily, the County Surveyor generously agreed to loan his vault on the first floor of the courthouse to the library.
By September 25th, the vault was crowded and the library was relocated to the Women’s Club.
On November 21st, the library opened for business in its new location.
In March the first Bookmobile was purchased.
The library was again relocated, this time to a storefront in the Baber Building.
On June 21st, a new building was constructed at 219 S. College, Richmond MO.  This location would be the library's home for many years.
The basement was completed for a children’s library.
A new Bookmobile was purchased.
Reassessment brought about a major change for the library with a tax rollback from 10 cents to 7 cents per $100 assessed valuation. With the rising costs of collection items and facility maintenance, the library was in need of additional income.
On April 1st, the Ray County Library asked the voters for an increase of 4 cents. The issue failed.
On June 3rd, the Ray County Library board and administration decided to ask residents again for a levy increase.  This time the levy passed by a heavy margin.
With the assistance of grant funding, a library van was purchased to help provide service throughout the county.
The library entered the world of automation with machine-readable catalog records and other technologies were integrated into library systems and services.
The library was once again in need of a new location.  With the assistance of a group of community members who formed the INC Board, the Library Board, and other area residents joined together to purchase and renovate a new building.  The C&R Grocery Store building was purchased for $175,000.  During the next two years, $1.4 million was spent to remodel the building.  The funding came from a combination of sources including, $840,000 from local donations, $560,000 from a USDA Rural Development loan, and the remainder from library cash reserves. 

The USDA Rural Development loan was paid off in full, twenty-one years ahead of schedule, due to the excellent financial management of Library Director Steve Meyer.  This saved the Ray County taxpayers $363,00 in interest on the loan.
The library placed a voting measure on the April 4th ballot, requesting a levy increase.  The measure read as follows: "For the purpose of maintaining an aging facility, expanding outreach services to schools, daycares, and nursing homes; purchasing new materials, including the addition of digital materials and genealogical resources; extending service hours; updating technology; increasing programming for children, youth, adults, and seniors; and for the general operations of the Ray County Library district, shall there be a tax increase of $0.10 over the present $0.11 for the county library?”

  • TOTALVoters 2,573
  • Vote YES 1,507
  • VOTE NO 1,066

On June 6th a storm traveled through Richmond that damaged the library building.  In order to repair the damage, the library had to take out a loan to fund the construction of a new roof on the facility.  Luckily, the additional funds from the tax levy enabled the library to pay off the loan a year later.

For more pictures and information on the Ray County Library history you can visit the library or view this powerpoint presentation that has some additional pictures.