Around 1896 a group of ladies organized 2 literary groups, the Athenian Club and the Progress Club. They, along with the Commercial Club (what would now be similar to the Chamber of Commerce) petitioned the Carnegie Foundation for funds for a local library. The Free Library and Reading Room opened on August 14, 1908 and Miss Sabina Deighton served as the town’s 1st librarian until her death in 1933.
From the start the library in Great Bend went Beyond the Book. In the original building the main floor was the library, but the second floor was more of a community center, holding dances, meetings, Community Theatre, socials and even school classrooms. Eventually a children’s room opened in the basement of the building.
The library’s current building opened on February 1, 1971 and demolition on the original Carnegie library began on January 25, 1972. On January 23, 1971 local children helped move books from the old children’s room to the new building by forming a long line and pass books along. The rest of the collection was moved by conveyor belt and a moving company.