The first library was opened by a lawyer named William Black in 1884-1885, a small lending library. In 1898 the Prentis Study group was organized and maned for Mrs. Noble Prentis of Topeka, wife of a widely known Kansas writer and historian, who was herself a leader in the Women’s Federated Club Movement. In 1899, Mrs. Prentis came to visit the club named after her and suggested that the young ladies find some worthwhile project to work on; thus was born the idea of a library for Wellington. When the new city hall was being built, the club women were promised two rooms on the second floor, one to be used for the library. The Prentis Study Club asked the mayor to arrange for the city to take over the library. The Wellington Library Association, with a capital stock of $5,000.00 sold at $1.00 per share, was set up. The Women’s Federation donated $1,200.00 for furnishings. In March 1908, it was determined to incorporate the library under state law relating to public library, but it was voted to maintain the name Prentis Library.
THE CARNEGIE LIBRARY:
On April 1, 1914 at the spring election the voters approved the support of a public library by a vote of 3-1. In May 1914, the Wellington City Library board held its first meeting and voted to begin the process of erecting a library building. On April 10,1915, it was voted to buy a site from the Long-Bell Lumber Co. at the corner of Seventh Street and Jefferson Avenue for $3,000.00. The board had begun negotiations with Andrew Carnegie, and on April 19, 1915 the Carnegie Corporation stated that it would give $17,500. for the library building. The name of the architect has been lost, but the contract was awarded to J.H. Mitchell. The building was completed in December of 1915, but remained vacant for some time due to a delay in the receipt of the new furniture. Meanwhile, Miss Flower and Miss Hackney, the librarians, cataloged books. The library building was accepted from the contractor on June 12, 1916 was dedicated June 19, 1916 and was informally opened to the public July 1, 1916.
In 1986 the Library Board of Trustees and community became involved in a project to enlarge and renew the original structure; June 6 1987 the Wellington Carnegie Library was entered on the National Register of Historic Places; 1988 ground was broken to start the exterior shell of the addition to the building. For nearly 2 years the library was in temporary housing as the interior underwent extensive renovation. The interior of the library maintains its original open floor plan and vestibule entrance. The first floor pillars retain their marble wainscoting.