Skip Navigation


Remembering the Past, Celebrating the Present and Embracing the Future


History by the Decades

The 1980s: Our Beginning 

On September 14, 1982, a group of representatives from the Friends of the Library signed the chartering documents to create The Friends Foundation of Topeka Public Library.  The group included Ken Alexander, Jeanne Hirschberg, Ed Podmore, Jean Saylor, C.R. “Dick” Lake, Paul Smith and Jim Marvin.

At the end of 1983, The Library Foundation had total assets under management of $37,112.

In April 1986, Friends of the Library initiated Lifetime Membership program with $1,000.00 proceeds going to the Foundation.

The 1990s: Establishing Our Way

January 1994 Election of new Foundation Board. The board decided to professionally manage $300,000 corpus, rewrite by-laws, policies and changed their name to The Library Foundation.

January 1995 The Library agreed to transfer some of its non tax funds to the Foundation to pool for management purposes, and Foundation then had $1.3 million to manage.

January 1996 The Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library asks The Library Foundation and the Friends of the Library to take a lead role to execute a bond campaign for a new library facility.

July 1997 Jim McHenry was hired as the Executive Director of The Library Foundation.

May 1998 The Wilder Society was created as a planned giving society for The Library Foundation. It is named in recognition of early library benefactors Edward and Mary Wilder. Stained Glass

1999  Connie Menninger led the efforts to secure the six stained glass windows from the original library building that had been located on the statehouse grounds at 8th and Jackson. She was able to reunite five of the six windows in time for the library’s renovation project in 1999. Three of the windows had ribbons with topics of study: History, Science, and Art. The other three held phrases of a quote by Francis Bacon: “Reading Maketh a Full Man; Conference a Ready Man; Writing an Exact Man.” 

The 2000s: Finding our Footing

January 2002 The Michael Graves designed building opens thanks to The Great Expectations Campaign; a $4.3 million fundraising campaign by The Library Foundation. The library gallery was formally renamed The Alice C. Sabatini Gallery in 2002 after the current library facility opened. The Sabatini Gallery is named to honor the memory of local artist, educator, designer and philanthropist Alice C. Sabatini.

February 2006 The Library Foundation moved to the renovated annex at 1020 SW Washburn Ave. Thanks to generous donors; Robert and Hazel Lingo, the annex building now houses the bookmobile department as well as the offices of the Kansas Library Association and the Library Foundation.


September 2007 The Baker Genealogy Center is made possible with generous support of Dr. Phillip and Betty Baker. It houses comprehensive resources in print, electronic form or microfilm.

September 2008 The Neighborhood concept, which pulls related topics together in one place, is made possible with financial support of the Foundation. This organizational system helps turn around a troubling trend: the decrease in non-fiction check-outs.                

September 2008 The Foundation provides funding for The Edge, an activity area in the library for teens. This casual spot is the perfect place for friends to hang out, play video and board games and enjoy programs like Performers’ Place and Teen Writers Group.

The 2010s: Making a Difference

September 2011 Jim McHenry retires and Kathy Groesbeck is hired as the new Foundation Executive Director.

October 2013 The Library Foundation provides and arranges major funding to develop The Kids Library; a space for learning and exploration.

January 2014 Nancy Lindberg is hired as the new Foundation Executive Director after Groesbeck retires. 

May 2014 Robert C. and Dorothy Harder IREAD Program. It is a program for kindergarteners to receive a graduation gift which includes their first library card and a book.

June 2014 The Foundation’s work with Capitol Federal Foundation creates a literacy partnership to be enjoyed across Shawnee County. The $200,000 gift and support from the Friends enables the library to purchase the new bookmobile, Sherlock.

May 2015 The Alice bookmobile arrives. This new bookmobile is made possible by the estate gift of Margaret and Hugh McCausland - longtime Friends of the Library volunteers and book lovers.

December 2016 A mobile classroom for preschool-aged children, the Learn & Play Bus, was purchased. This mobile classroom helps children develop through playing, talking, reading, singing and writing so that they are ready for Kindergarten.

April 2017 Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library launched at Topeka Main Post Office joined by Postmaster Sheryl Stark. With major funding from DPIL

The Library Foundation, the library and United Way of Greater Topeka partnered to make this free book program available to all Shawnee County children birth to 5 years old.

April 2017 Dr. Glenn and Claire Swogger are recognized for their gift for the outdoor expansion of Millennium Café. New public space will include a year-round sunroom and courtyard with café services and an outdoor amphitheater-type program-classroom area. Construction to begin in late 2017.

March 2018 Security Benefit becomes library’s second Literacy Partner by pledging funds for new  Adventuremobile. This vehicle offers library experience for children by providing appealing materials to supplement school libraries and also encourages reading.

Spring 2018 The Library Foundation announces its first brick campaign for Claire’s Courtyard. Funds from the brick campaign will go for the new furnishings of the sunroom and outdoor patio.

May 2018 Ribbon Cutting of the first of eight Team Rooms thanks to Warren Taylor’s generous gift.

March 2019 The new Adventuremobile arrives. The partnership with Security benefit has enabled the Library Foundation to provide funding for a vehicle that offers library experience for children by providing appealing materials to supplement school libraries and also encourages reading.

July 2019 Kansas Health Foundation granted $228,000 for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.


October 2019 Grand Opening of Claire’s Courtyard and Amphitheater. The project is a result of the first million dollar gift received by The Library Foundation from Dr. Glenn & Claire Swogger. New public space will include a year-round sunroom, courtyard with café services and an outdoor amphitheater-type program-classroom area.

December 2019 A new Red Carpet vehicle is purchased by donor gifts to The Library Foundation.

The 2020s: Serving our Community

2020 Circulation Plaza remodel is completed with funds from The Library Foundation.

July 2020 Nancy Lindberg retires and Erin Aldridge is hired as the new Foundation Executive Director.

August 2020 Jerry and Judy Reed Studio opens inside the remodeled Alice C. Sabatini Art Gallery. The funds for this multipurpose space were donated through the generous gifts of the Jerry and Judy Reed family.

March 2021 Millennium Café remodel completed.

Looking Ahead

The Foundation will continue to move ahead as the needs of the community and the desires of our donors do. We will be loyal to serving the community and continue to ignore the challenges and imagine the possibilities. The best days are ahead.

“I’m looking forward to the future, and feeling grateful for the past.” Mike Rowe





Back to Top