Graves Memorial Public Library seeks to promote intellectual growth, joy of reading and community connection.
Board of Directors
Director / Librarian
In 1952, women from the “Home Demonstration Units” of Rural Workers, Home Improvement, Monday Maids, St. Paul and North Mission Homemakers joined together to sponsor the establishment of a public library in St. Paul. The idea of a public library was originally spearheaded by the late W.W. Graves, a local hero in his own right. In a January 11, 1951 Journal article he said:
“It is expected that some real progress will be forthcoming now concerning a new Public Library for St. Paul. The various Home Demonstration units in the community are checking into the matter and this sheet has always predicted that when the women start a project it goes over in a big way. Now let’s all boost for a Public Library for this community.”
The local school board let the group use a room in the former St. Paul Public School on the west side of town located at 7th and Central Streets. Through pie suppers, food sales, rummage sales and sale of tickets to card parties, they raised money to finance the project.
On May 15, 1952, the Graves Memorial Library opened with an inventory of approximately 2,000 books.
Mrs. Erma Havely, a member of the St. Paul Home Demonstration Unit, was appointed permanent librarian and spent many days cataloging the books. Each Unit assumed responsibility for keeping the library open for a month, rotating the responsibility. The women donated their time, keeping the library open and checking the books in and out.
When the school board decided to convert the west school to a vocational agricultural building the library had to find a new home.
After raising $500 they purchased a vacant building on the south side of downtown “Mainstreet,” on Central between 5th and Main. Local carpenters and painters donated their labor and the ladies undertook the task of remodeling the building and moving the books.
The downtown library building was in need of major repairs, so the board appealed to State of Kansas for help. The State promised dollar-for-dollar matching funds to build a “model” library for small towns.
The fundraising goal was reached by June 1966 and building plans for a 1,200 square foot building began. The present Graves Memorial Public Library was opened in June 1968.
The City of St. Paul moved the city office into the library building when it opened in 1968 and paid the utilities. In January 1992, the city office moved from the library to the newly constructed St. Paul City Hall at 703 Central.
The Graves Memorial Public Library has been a thriving part of the community ever since, thanks to the forward thinking of W.W. Graves.
The newest addition, the Children’s section of the library, was added, funded through donations and dedicated to Ray Wilson in 2002, doubling the square footage of the library.