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Rapid City Public Library History

Click to view archived historical documents  |  Archived Annual Reports


Library Buildings     Rapid City Library - Time-line of Historical Events
Library Hall
Rapid City Carnegie Library
Rapid City Public Library Downtown
610 Quincy - Expansion
Rapid City Public Library North - General Beadle

1879  |  Located in the Sweeney Building, a volunteer reading room was organized by community women with $45, donated books and periodicals, and a free subscription to the Minneapolis Journal.

1881  |  Newly chartered by the territorial government, the Rapid City Library Association built Library Hall on the corner of 6th and Kansas City Streets on land donated by John Brennan. A finance campaign raised the $600 seed money to begin the project in February; the flag pole was erected in March.

       Library Hall was a 32’ x 85’ wood frame building for use as a reading-room, library, and theater. It featured a 25’ stage, seated 450, and its bookcases were furnished with 500 purchased volumes of biography, poetry, science, and fiction. Its librarian, Lida Mitchell, earned $5 a month. The reading room was open six hours a week, and only one book could be checked out at a time.

       Membership was limited to 100 persons for a $12 share plus a $9 initiation fee and $4 annual dues. The Association was free of debt by 1887. Until the turn of the century, Library Hall served the community, not only as a library, but as the Methodist and Congregational churches, as civic center for social, political, and civic activities, lectures, concerts, ballroom dances, and funerals.                                                                  


1903  |  Members of the Currents Events Club (still active today) proposed a tax levy to revive library services and to ultimately pave the way for a Carnegie Library. A letter to the editor that year compared the tax per citizen equal to the value of two cigars. In a municipal vote of 115 to 88, a one mill levy was passed and free library services were then offered in a succession of rented locations. The 6th and St. Joe corner room of the Flormann Block was rented for $15 a month and Miss Rose Bower was appointed librarian. John C. Bower, her father and president of the Rapid City Free Library Association, maintained an apartment behind the library room for Rose and her sister Laura.

1904  |  Rose Bower resigned, passing the librarian job to Laura Bower.

1905  |  169 new books were purchased with $30 from the library fund and $70 raised from a talent show benefit play called Captain Racket.

See also Musical Program Newspaper Clipping from January 1905. 

1909  |  It is believed that the library moved next door into what was the Todden-Worth Building on 6th Street and then back again into the Flormann Building. Laura Bower married Claude C. Van Nuys - whom she met at the library. Their son, Maxwell Van Nuys, later wrote, “Lillian Nyswanger wanted the librarianship at the same time and resented it going to Laura, who had been her friend, and never forgave her. (Thereafter, Lillian could never pass my mother in the street without making a face.)”

       Lillian Nyswanger, to whom legend assigns a quick temper, finally became librarian. Several histories claim she was forced to resign after throwing a book at a patron. In 1973, Laura Van Nuys told interviewer David Super that Lillian Nyswanger was “one of the few people in those days that had read every book we had in the library...she had a different personality, but was certainly not given to such brash actions as (throwing a book at a patron).”

1910  |  Leora J. Lewis was appointed librarian.

1912  |  The library moved into a corner room in the Elks Building for $60 monthly rent - which was later reduced to $35.

1913 |  The library received advice from the State Free Library Commission on how to apply for a Carnegie grant for a new library building.

1914  |  The Library Board, which was by that time appointed by the city according to state law, formally applied to Andrew Carnegie for a grant. The ensuing process to meet requirements resulted in a site dispute which was ultimately settled in State Supreme Court. Library Hall was removed to make way for the new Carnegie Library on the NW corner of 6th and Kansas City Streets.

1915  |  The building of the new library began with a $12,500 Carnegie grant. The Rapid City Journal wrote of the opening ceremony, “... all expressed themselves as being pleased with everything from the large library room with its many shelves, books, drinking fountain, chairs and tables, to the conveniences below including the charming little assembly room for the use of clubs and committee meetings.


1917  |  The new Carnegie Library opened its doors. The Rapid City Journal wrote of the opening ceremony, “... all expressed themselves as being pleased with everything from the large library room with its many shelves, books, drinking fountain, chairs and tables, to the conveniences below including the charming little assembly room for the use of clubs and committee meetings."

1918  |   Leora Lewis moved to Pierre to become the State Librarian and was eventually replaced by Marjorie Smith, who held the position until her death in 1956.

1921  |  The library report showed a collection of 4120 volumes and 16,974 loans. The assistant’s monthly salary was raised to $75 and Marjorie Smith’s to $100. Smith continued to managed the Library until 1956 when she was succeeded by Helen Hoyt.

1930's  |  The Carnegie Library underwent a WPA project expansion, as explained in a letter by Library Director Marjorie Smith to the American Library Association.

1965  |  Discussion began about replacement of the Carnegie Library due to insufficiency of physical space, increased population and needs of the Rapid City area. Planning began for a new library to serve the growing community. The planning commission that was instituted was comprised of library trustees, city and state officials, an Omaha library consultant and Chamber of Commerce representation. The Rapid City Civic Library Building Association incorporated under state law, and efforts began to build a new library at 610 Quincy St.

1970 | The Rapid City Civic Library Building Association was granted a charter by the State of South Dakota. The purpose of this group was to raise money for the construction of a new library.

1972  |  On October 24, 1972, the doors opened to a new 28,000 sq. ft. building to serve Rapid City library patrons. The new facility boasted reading room seating for nearly 200 people, a spacious children's area, ample office and work space, a periodical/reference room, an art loan display wall, a board/conference room, and a meeting room for groups of up to 60. Rapid City Public Library Board of Trustees members were Faye Crawford, James M. Kuehn, Curtis D. Ireland, Beverly Linderman, and William G. Porter. Serving along with the trustees on the Rapid City Civic Library Building Association, Inc. Board of Directors were Stanford M. Adelstein, Barbara Gunderson, and Dean S. Nauman; Helen Hoyt was Library Director.

1975 | A new book drop was installed in the parking lot of the Kmart building.
1976 | Blue Stem Woman statue by Dale Lamphere was dedicated. This work was commissioned by the Rapid City Civic Library Building Association and funded by a $50,000 gift from Mrs. Ray Kroc.

1979  |  The Rapid City Public Library joined the computer age with a database system for its holdings. An Analysis of the Rapid City Public Library and Its Community was published by library staff to explain how the library meets the needs of the community. Bookmobile launched.


1982 | The Rapid City Public Library building at 610 Quincy Street is ten years old. Your New Rapid City Public Library 1972-1982 is published with comparative pictures of the interior and exterior.

1984  |  Helen Hoyt retired as Library Director after nearly 30 years of service. Susan Sandness became the head librarian. Further information.

1988 | Board Members

Anita Paige - Chair          Joe Bailey          Mary Berkebile
Monte Beck                       Pennie Kirk

1989  |  Circulation had increased by 41% and reference/periodical usage by 89% from 1979. Staffing was down by 11%, and the Library relied on over 500 volunteer hours to maintain customary levels of service.

1989 | Board Members
Anita Paige - Chair          Joe Bailey          Monte Beck
Gene Raetz - Vice            Pennie Kirk
1990 | Board Members
Gene Raetz - Chair         Monte Beck        Julie Annicchiarico
Pennie Kirk                      Joe Bailey           Blaine Robinson
Lois Affholder    
1991 | Board Members
Gene Raetz - Chair         Larry Blote         Julie Annicchiarico
Kathy Johnson                Phyllis Dixon     Blaine Robinson
Bevery Shaw                    Lois Affholder   Rose Richmond        
1992 | Board Members
Gene Raetz - Chair        Larry Blote          Julie Annicchiarico
Kathy Johnson               Phyllis Dixon       Kathy Dennison
Beverly Shaw                  JoAnn Trask       Lois Affholder
1993 | Board Members
Julie Annicchiarico - Chair                          Phyllis Dixon
Kathy Johnson               Don Kennedy       Beverly Shaw
Kathy Dennison             Lois Affholder
Bev Kisser                      Gene Raetz
1994 | Board Members
Julie Annicchiarico - Chair                          Frank Etter
Kathy Johnson - Vice-Chair                        Bev Shaw
Kathy Dennison            Lois Affholder       Bev Kisser
Phyllis Dixon                 Don Kennedy

1995 | Kathy Fredette became library director. Library building closes temporarily gets new paint and carpet.

1995 | Board Members
Phyllis Dixon - Chair     Frank Etter            Julie Annicchiarico
Kathy Johnson               Don Kennedy      Kathy Dennison            
Bev Shaw
1996 | Board Members
Phyllis Dixon - Chair     Roy Burr                Kathy Johnson
Don Kennedy                 Kathy Dennison   Brenda Standiford        
Frank Etter                      Bev Shaw

1997-98  |  Technology grants provide a foundation computer network and the library launched its first website which enabled Internet users to browse the South Dakota Library Network.

1997 | Board Members

Phyllis Dixon - Chair       Frank Etter           Ron Kroeger
Roy Burr - Vice-Chair     Kathy Dennison  Kathy Johnson               
Todd Ossenfort               Jane Pfeifle

1998 | Greta Chapman was appointed Library Director.

1998 | Board Members

Kathy Johnson - Chair   Phyllis Dixon       Frank Etter
Todd Ossenfort               Roy Burr              Jane Pfeifle

1999  |  The Electronic Resource Center, a computer area of Internet access machines, was dedicated. A contract with Pennington County was signed to provide library services to Pennington County residents.

1999 | Board Members

Roy Burr - Chair               Lillie Brown          Phyllis Dixon
Frank Etter                        Kathy Johnson     Todd Ossenfort

2000  |   After several years of planning, the Rapid City Public Library presented an expansion plan to the City’s Vision 2012 capital improvements program. Approval for a new 19,000 sq. ft. addition to be built above the west parking lot was given on the condition of the library successfully raising $500,000.

2000 | Board Members
Roy Burr - Chair               Phyllis Dixon         Frank Etter
Ron Kroeger                     Michels                  Brown

2001  |  The Library Foundation successfully raised over $650,000.. On March 19th, the Rapid City Library Foundation Board presented a ceremonial check to the Rapid City Council symbolizing the completion of their capital fundraising campaign. Groundbreaking ceremonies for the new addition took place on August 27, 2001. The project also provided renovation monies to convert the old entrance to a solarium, the creation of a South Dakota Research and Genealogy Room, study room additions and Reference Desk improvement.

2001 | Board Members

Roy Burr - Chair                Phyllis Dixon          Michels
Brown                                 Frank Etter              Ron Kroeger

2002 | On August 30th, the Youth Services department was moved upstairs into the new Youth Services Department which included an expanded Young Adult area, study rooms, aviary, and reading loft for young children. Dedication ceremony for the new expansion took place on September 21. Rearrangement of the Adult collection stacks, audio and video collections, and adult reading areas concluded in November. The solarium was finished and furnished with western decor and an aquarium of native game fish. Grand opening dedication remarks were made by Library Director Greta Chapman.

2002 | Board Members
Roy Burr - Chair                 Brown                     Phyllis Dixon
Ron Kroeger                       Michels                   Frank Etter

2003  |  In March 2003, wireless access became available in the library. The dedication of the final phase of the expansion: the South Dakota Research and Genealogy Room took place on April 12.

2003 | Board Members
Roy Burr - Chair                 Ron Kroeger          Eric Abrahamson
Phyllis Dixon                       Bobbie Christenson
2004 | Board Members
Roy Burr - Chair                 Ron Kroeger         Eric Abrahamson
Lynda Clark                         Monte Loos           Bobbie Christenson
2005 | Board Members
Eric Abrahamson - Chair Susan Callahan  Bobbie Christenson
Ron Kroeger                       Monte Loos          James Olson
Lynda Clark
2006 | Board Members
Monte Loos - Chair            James Olson       Sandra McNeely
Ron Kroeger                       Stephanie Big Crow
2007 |  Pennington County Library Services Contract Approved (Article)
2007 | South Dakota Library Association President Greta Chapman Annual Report
2007 | Board Members
Monte Loos - Chair            James Olson        Sandra McNeely
Ron Kroeger                       Stephanie Big Crow

2008 | On January 14, 2008, a milestone in library history is marked with the opening of the first satellite site, Rapid City Public Library North, offering library materials and resources to the public from the school library at the new General Beadle Elementary School. The school was planned to meet not only the needs of students, but to benefit the entire North Rapid Community. Grand Opening and Dedication Ceremony for Rapid City Public Library North took place on March 8. Speaking at the ceremony were Library Director Greta Chapman, Library Board Chairman James Olson, Mayor Alan Hanks, Superintendent of Schools Peter Wharton, City Councilman Lloyd LaCroix, and Mark Kenefick representing General Beadle Elementary School. Entertainment was provided by the Standing Horse Drum Group and RCPL library personnel served up a free chili lunch to those from the community who attended the presentation.

2008 | On Friday, March 7, 2008,USA TODAY listed the Rapid City Public Library as one of the "10 great places to find a nook and read a book".

2008 | Library Card Sign-Up Month, Mayor Alan Hanks

2008 | The Big Read, Mayor Alan Hanks

2008 | Rapid City Public Library Statistics

| Board Members

James Olson - Chair          Sandra McNeely     Maria McCarthy-Anderson
Ron Kroeger                         Monte Loos             Stephanie Big Crow
2009 | Board Members
James Olson - Chair          Sandra McNeely     Stephanie Big Crow
Ron Kroeger                         Monte Loos             Maria McCarthy-Anderson
Robert Van Norman
2010 | Board Members
Sandra McNeely - Chair     James Olson          Monte Loos
Richard Haeder                   Laura Patterson     Ron Kroeger

2010 | ILS and RFID Implementation Details

2010 | Search for knowledge going digital at library (Article)
2011 | Board Members
Sandra McNeely - Chair     James Olson          Monte Loos
Richard Haeder                   Laura Patterson     Ron Sasso
David Seger
2012 | Board Members
James Olson - Chair Monte Loos Richard Haeder
Maryanne Rohrer Rod Pettigrew Ron Sasso
Vera Kowal
     - Floor Plan
2012 | November 30, 2012: RCPL County/City Public Library East Grand Opening (Video)
2013 | Greta Chapman accepted the position of President/CEO of the South Dakota Hall of Fame; therefore, resigned as Library Director.
2013 | Rapid City Public Libraries Annual Report 2013

2014 | Jim McShane begins as new Director of the Rapid City Public Libraries