Library History

JH Robbins Memorial Library History

1910 - Mrs. Eva Robbins approached the Ellsworth City Council with a proposition to build a city library in memory of her late husband, J. H. Robbins. She would build the building for a cost of $5,000 and the city would provide the lot and $100 per year for maintenance, repairs and improvements. The city council agreed to the proposal and it was found that lots 14, 15, & 16 in block 19 were available. This was the site of the first Catholic Church in Ellsworth. Public subscriptions were taken and $1229.95 was raised to purchase the land.

1913 - The new library was erected and opened in October. The first board meeting in the new building was held on October 13, 1913. The first librarian was Mrs. Chas. Evans. To start the library the Ladies Library Association formally gave the new library 1398 books, $15.00 for new books and $155.91 to apply on the salary of the librarian. The new library consisted of one small room with a librarian’s office, stock room and reading room and a basement with furnace and one small toilet facility.

1956 - The Library Board approached an architect to draw up plans for an addition as the current building was too small. Mr. John Seitz, local architect was asked to draw up the plans.

1957 - The architect came back with drawings and a price estimate of $28,260 for the addition and renovation. The library had $12,000 available for the project and asked the city council to have a bond issue to raise the additional $15,000 needed. The bond issue passed and construction began.

1958 - On March 18, 1958, the Library Board met for the first time in the new addition. Items purchased and paid for at this time included steel stacks for $1608. Two tables and 12 chairs for $613 and the librarian’s desk for $225.

1988 - The Library looked into making the library handicapped accessible for the public and decided that we would have to use a lot of the current library to make this possible. The current library was already overcrowded. It was decided by the board to add on to the present library. Fundraising began in 1988 and continued for the next several years.

1993 - Construction began in 1993. The architect for the project was Fred Abercrombie and Schipper’s Construction did the work.

1994 - The New Addition and renovation of the old library was completed on June 1, 1994 and the building was turned over to the Library Board. Cost of the project was approximately $600,000.

1996 - The Library Board established an Endowment Fund for the library in 1996.

1997 - The Library has started a fund raising project to put an elevator in for the lower level of the library.

2005 - Construction finished on basement improvement project. The project included the following amenities: new kitchen, community meeting room, new restrooms and an elevator.

2018 - Celebrating a milestone, the library has undergone a fresh remodel!

Library Website


Contact Us

Coleen Sippel
Library Director

219 N Lincoln Ave
Ellsworth, KS 67439
Phone: (785) 472-3969
Fax: (785) 472-4191
Find us on Facebook