INMAN — When a group of Inman women came together in 1942, they had a purpose — to form a community library.
According to Inman's centennial history book, the women hosted fundraisers such as teas and food sales, gathering funds and books until the library opened its doors on March 16, 1943.
"The books came from all over; they even had chests of books from Topeka that they rented for 50 cents for six months," said Donna Sallee, librarian at Inman Public Library.
Patrons paid 50 cents to have six month's use of a library card. For some time, new books could be rented for two weeks at the cost of 10 cents per book. Bestselling novels from 1942 and 1943 included Lloyd Douglas' "The Robe" and John Steinbeck's "The Moon is Down."
"I think one of the first librarians was paid $4 a month," Sallee said. "They were open, at that time, one day a week."
Initially set up in Township Hall, the library was moved into what was the Central Telephone Office in June 1963.
The library's current home at 100 N. Main is was built in 1883. The building originally housed Adam Holle's Hardware Store and the Odd Fellows Hall. Through the years, it has served as a pool hall, snack shop, appliance store and health center. The city of Inman purchased the building in 1990 and the Inman Public Library was moved there in 1991. In 2011, the building was placed on the Register of Historic Places in Kansas and the National Register of Historic Places.
Only the first floor of the building is used by the library, which has sections of books for adults, young adults and children along with computer access and a magazine collection.
"Actually, we could use more space here," Sallee said.
The first floor also has a meeting room, where story time and Lego club are held.
"People can reserve it for meetings or birthday parties," Sallee said.
One of the most striking features of the library is a Dr. Seuss-themed mural in the children's section painted by Inman High School art students. The walls of the main section also hold rotating collections of art and quilts from Inman residents.
"We just painted a year ago," Sallee said. "We added a lot of color."
When she started working at the library, her husband told her he thought she'd be bored working at a library, Sallee recalled.
"I'd always worked out and about," Sallee said. "But, from day one, it seemed like it fit me kind of like a glove. A lot of people like to come here and visit a little bit."
Sallee has been the librarian in Inman for more than 15 years.
"I don't plan on retiring from here until I can't work here anymore," Sallee said. "It's an easy job. It's a good job. I like it because you learn things every day. You help people."
She tells people a library card is the best card they can have in their wallet, since it gives them free access to thousands of books, movies and more.
"I bet every other patron says, 'What's good to read today?' or 'What have you read lately?'" Sallee said. "It's kind of nice. It's kind of like fixing whatever ails them, like a doctor, because books are wonderful."
The Inman Public Library will celebrate its 75th birthday with an open house from 9 a.m. to noon on Sept. 23, coinciding with Santa Fe Days in Inman.
"We'll have cake, lemonade and a book sale," Sallee said.
Authors Marci Penner and Wendee Rowe will be signing their new book, "Kansas Guidebook 2," Kyle Buller will be available to sign his three books, as will cozy mystery and children's book writer Rae Cuda from Hutchinson.
The Inman Public Library is open from 1 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday. For more information, visit http://www.inmanlibrary.com or call 620-585-2474.
Contact Patricia Middleton by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her stories on Twitter at @MacSentinel.