From the collections at the Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum. Reprinted with permission from The Leavenworth County Historical Society and Museum and the Leavenworth Times. Donated by Debra Graden.

Round Prairie Once Had Rival Libraries Under Same Roof

by George J. Remsburg

Who remembers when the well known Round Prairie community, northwest of Leavenworth, had two rural libraries which were rivals and both of which were in charge of the same librarian and housed in the same building? I recall this unusual situation but had about forgotten the circumstances until recently, while assorting a lot of old papers, I came across a clipping, almost yellow with age, which recalled them quite vividly. The clipping is from the old Kansas City Journal and is not dated, but, as near as I can remember, it was in the late '90s or the early 1900s, between 40 and 45 years ago. Perhaps some old-timer of Round Prairie can throw some light on the matter. The Journal account is headed: "Battle of the Libraries --Rivalry Between Two Factions of a Leavenworth Community." It is appended hereto verbatim:

"Along the rural telephone and free mail delivery the rural library is no longer considered a luxury, but a necessity. Many rural communities in Leavenworth County, Kas., have organized library associations, but the Round Prairie neighborhood in the northern part of the county is one of the few, if not the only community in the state, that supports two such institutions. And, stranger still, although these libraries are rival affairs, both are in charge of the same librarian and unde the same roof.

"The first library association at Round Prairie was organized over 25 years ago, and is one of the oldest, country libraries in the state. During nearly all of that period it has had the undivided support of the reading public of that community. About a year ago, however, the association decided to give a play, a farce comedy, for the benefit of the library. The selection of local talent for the presentation of the play was made, and as a cast was to be composed of a limited numbers of characters, of course every family in the community could not be represented. The management selected those who were deemed best fitted by natural ability and otherwise for the parts to be taken in the play. The play went on and was a big success in every particular. All the time, however, there was a smoldering coal of jealousy waiting for an opportunity to burst into flames of wrath and vengeance.

"The absence of several heretofore active members of the library association was noticed on the night of the play. This was the first omen of the jealousy that the management had aroused in unintentionally, or unavoidably omitting certain young people of the community when the selection of players was made. this seeming partiality prompted several members of the old library association to not only withdraw from the support of the organization, but to get together and organize a distinct library of their own. This they did, and whether as a matter of spite or out of respect for the old librarian, they placed the newly formed library in her charge and in the same house with the old one.

"The old association lately arranged for another play, which was presented in the hall at Potter Friday night, February 20, and was entitled, "Because I Love You So," which probably has no reference to their feelings towards the rival organization. the new association is not talking of competing for honors in the theatrical world and may decide to launch a troupe before the season is over. Round Prairie has always been noted for the harmonious relations of its citizens and the rivalry which is waxing warmer all the time, is considered a sensation in that hitherto peaceful community. The results of the feud seem to have been fruitful in one respect, however. It has stimulated and active interest in literature and rival bookworms are now trying to see which can do the most reading and show the highest degree of culture."

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