Neodesha’s first public library was founded in February, 1912, by a group of Neodesha women. It was located in a two-room frame building originally erected for the Neodesha Register in 1896 at 113 North Eighth Street.
In October, 1912, the city permitted the Library Association to move to a room above City Hall at 102-1/2 South Fourth Street. Women volunteers acted as librarian serving one week at a time until the Association could afford to pay a librarian. “Book Showers” and “Teas” were given to help pay the expenses of furnishing the room and to provide reading material. Donations were also accepted.
In May, 1914, the City became the owner and operator of the library so that a tax could be levied to support it. The City Commissioners appointed the Mayor and eight women were selected from the Library Association to the Board of Directors. Among those chosed was Mrs. W.A. (Ida) Rankin, who served on the board in various capacities until her resignation on December 5, 1955. She served for 41 years.
When Mrs. Rankin died in 1962 she left the bulk of her estate to be used for the building and support of a modern library in Neodesha with the condition that the funds be matched in part by the city.
The present library building and furnishings were financed from three sources; Mrs. Rankin’s estate, the City of Neodesha and the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Ground was first broken in 1965 and the building was dedicated on August 14, 1966, as the W.A. Rankin Memorial Library.
Ground was broken in March, 1999, for the Conference Room addition. The addition was ready for use in January, 2000, allowing the Childrens Department to move into the old conference room and new carpet laid throughout both buildings.