Dodge City Public Library

June 10th: Movie Afternoon / 10 de Junio: Tarde de película

Let’s enjoy a family movie together! We will be showing Matilda on June 10th at 2pm in our Lower Level Meeting Room. We will have popcorn and drinks available. You can bring your own drink as long as it has a lid. Register:

¡Disfrutemos juntos de una película en familia! Estaremos mostrando Matilda el 10 de junio a las 2pm en el salón de juntas del nivel inferior. Tendremos palomitas y bebidas disponibles. Puedes traer tu propia bebida si tiene tapa. Registro:

Dodge City History: Hamilton Bell

At the Kansas Heritage Center, we oversee and make accessible historical documents, photographs, and other materials for public use and those interested in researching the history of Dodge City and Southwest Kansas. One of these collections is made up of materials concerning Ham Bell, an early settler and historic figure in Dodge City.

Hamilton “Ham” Bell was an early settler to Dodge City who was an entrepreneur, a lawman, and even the mayor for a time. After moving west from Maryland at the age of 14 and arriving in Dodge City in 1874, Ham Bell immediately made a name for himself with the opening of his Elephant Livery Stable, as well as the Varieties Dance Hall. This dance hall introduced the Can Can to Dodge City in 1878, a legacy which continues on today at the Boot Hill Museum. Although his dance hall was only in business for one year, his Elephant Livery Stable was highly successful and was one of the biggest buildings in Southwest Kansas at the time.

Ham Bell’s business ventures were quite varied. Throughout the years, Bell also owned a furniture store, a mortuary business, a pet shop, a gift store, and the first car dealership in southwest Kansas. Additionally, Bell introduced the first motorized ambulance and hearse services in Dodge City.

Ham Bell was more than just a businessman, however, as he also served as a lawman in Kansas for thirty-six years. In 1880, Bell was first appointed deputy US Marshall in Dodge City, and served in this role for several years. He was also elected Sheriff of Ford County for the first time in 1887, and continued to be reelected until 1911. Ham Bell served as chief of police for a year until 1912, when he was elected Mayor. It was also during his administration that Dodge City began paving its historic brick streets. In 1929, Ham Bell helped organize the Last Round Up, which led to the creation of the Annual Kansas Pioneer Picnic. This evolved into what became known as the Ham Bell Picnic, and it was a precursor to events like Dodge City Days.

Ham Bell was a unique figure in the history of Dodge City – and a significant one, at that. As an early settler, a businessman, a mayor, a U.S. Marshall, and a public figure, Ham Bell helped shape the history of Dodge City.

June 3rd: Movie Afternoon / 3 de Junio: Tarde de película

Let’s enjoy a family movie together! We will be showing The Secret Life of Pets on June 3rd at 2pm in our Lower Level Meeting Room. We will have popcorn and drinks available. You can bring your own drink as long as it has a lid. Register:

¡Disfrutemos juntos de una película en familia! Estaremos mostrando La vida secreta de las mascotas el 3 de junio a las 2pm en el salón de juntas del nivel inferior. Tendremos palomitas y bebidas disponibles. Puedes traer tu propia bebida si tiene tapa. Registrarse:

WHEN / CUANDO: June 3rd, 2022 @ 2pm / 3 de Junio 2022 a las 2pm

WHERE / DONDE: Lower Level Meeting Room / El salón de juntas del nivel inferior

Summer Library Program 2022: Newsletter: The Prequel Edition

Check out our first newsletter of the summer!

Summer Library Program 2022 Schedule of Events

The schedule is finally here! Join us this summer for a ton of fun activities.

¡El horario está aquí! Únete a nosotros este verano para actividades divertidas.

Summer Library Registration

It’s time to “Read on the Range”! We hope everyone is just as excited as we are for the Summer Library Program. We are happy to announce that registration opens today, Monday, May 16th. You can register from home and pick up your t-shirt later or staff would be more than happy to assist you with signing up at the circulation desks. T-shirts will be available for the first 300 registrants. There will be a calendar of events posted later this week with all the dates and times of programs available this summer. Please follow the link below to register!

Wallace’s Big Adventure

Summer Library Program 2022 is about to start! The theme is “Reading on the Range” and Wallace decided he needed to check it out! Let’s see what Wallace found out about the summer. . .

Carol Markstrom, Western singer/songwriter, to perform at Dodge City Public Library

We are only one week away from our event with Carol Markstrom! We are excited for the opportunity to enjoy her music and learn the history intertwined with her songs. Registration is available at Be sure to check out her website,, to read all about Carol and her awards and nominations. We hope to see you there!

Summer Library Program 2022: “Reading on the Range”

All right, partners, let’s get ready for Summer Library Program 2022! Our theme this year is “Reading on the Range.” We’d like to share a little teaser with you of what is to come this summer before registration opens on May 16th! Be sure to keep checking our website and social media channels for more information about events.

Está bien, compañeros, preparémonos para el Programa de la Biblioteca para este Verano 2022! Nuestro tema este año es “Lectura en las Llanuras.” Nos gustaría compartir con ustedes lo que viene este verano antes de que se abra el registro el 16 de mayo! Consulte nuestro sitio web y redes sociales para obtener más información sobre los eventos.

Celebrating 115 Years of Library Service

Written by John Mason, KHC Archives Librarian

This year Dodge City Public Library turns 115, and its location on 1001 Second Avenue turns forty years old. The creation of the library back in 1907 was the result of growing desires in Dodge City for free, public access to books. The creation of the library in Dodge City was also emblematic of a national trend encouraged by the Industrialist Andrew Carnegie, who used his immense wealth in an effort to improve society through the creation of public libraries throughout the United States and Great Britain. Though the library has changed and evolved over the past 115 years, it has remained an important resource for the people of Dodge City.

Prior to 1907, libraries in Dodge City were fairly small, shirt-lived, and were not free and open to the public. In January 1905, however, the local women’s clubs encouraged a local judge, E.H. Madison, to contact Andrew Carnegie regarding the creation of a new public library in Dodge City. Carnegie offered to donate $7,500 (later increased to $8,500) for the construction of a new library, provided that the city agree to spend $750 annually to maintain the library. As the March 9, 1905 edition of The Globe-Republican newspaper stated, “the object and design of Mr. Carnegie is to bring the best books and periodicals within the reach of every class of citizens,” and that the library would be free and open to every citizen of Dodge City. This was a project that the public seemed to have largely supported, as a meeting on January 23, 1905 regarding the establishment of a new library was met with “a large attendance” and eighty volumes were donated to the new library by attendees. With such a groundswell of support – a local merry-go-round even donated 25 percent of their revenue to the library project – the plan for a new library was quickly established, and the new building was opened to the public on February 1, 1907. From the beginning, there was support to make the building itself a “pretty structure that will add to the beauty of the town,” and that building – now the Carnegie Arts Center – is indeed now on the National Register of Historic places as both architecturally and historically significant.

Despite an initial closure of the library for a few months in early 1907 due to a scarlet fever outbreak, the library was a big success. Newspaper articles in The Journal-Democrat and The Globe-Republican proclaimed the success of the early library, stating that the “greatest proof of the success of this undertaking…is in the large number of visitors daily, seeming to greatly appreciate the attractive reading room and excellent literature.” Library services were evidently quite popular, as the number of patrons continued to grow, and new books and services proved to be very popular. The first story time at the library in 1912 was given to a group of one hundred twenty-five children, for instance. That same year, The Dodge City Globe stated that “one of the best appreciated public institutions in Dodge City is the city library,” attesting to the growing popularity of the new library and its swiftly growing collection of books.

As Dodge City grew, so did the number of patrons and books at the library, ultimately requiring renovations to the facility, adding a new wing in 1936 with labor from the Works Progress Administration, and a children’s department in 1950. By 1969, the number of library card holders had increased from 298 in 1907 to 10,984, and the number of books had increased from 1000 to 28,118. In the 1960’s, then, the library was faced with a significant problem: the library was not big enough to serve the growing population. On top of this, numerous aspects of the library were in disrepair – the roof was leaking, the front steps were a hazard, and there were concerns that the floor would not be able to support the weight of the library’s collection of books. Despite several failed attempts to gain funding for a new building, the library board of trustees made the decision to rent a new location for the library, which they moved into in late 1969. Though these issues were problematic enough for the library to move locations, the Carnegie Building has since been repaired, and remains a particularly beautiful location that now houses the Carnegie Center for the Arts.

The new building, located at 606 First Avenue, was previously an old Montgomery Ward department store, but was renovated to suit the needs of the library. This location offered much more space, more parking, and was better suited to meet the needs of the public than their previous location. This move was assisted considerably with the help of volunteers who helped provide boxes, trucks, and labor to help move the library’s books from one location to the next. In the 1970s, the library began to make a more concerted effort to improve services for Spanish-speaking community members. In 1971, for instance, DCPL obtained a grant which they used in large part to purchase more Spanish-language books, and 1972 saw the creation of bilingual reading programs. The library continues today to maintain a collection of Spanish-language materials for patrons to check out. The 1970s also saw the integration of films into the library collection, as well as a now-discontinued program which allowed patrons to borrow prints of famous artworks.

The library rented this space for 12 years, but the location was only a temporary one, and increasing rental costs essentially forced the library to move once again. In this case, voters approved of the construction of a new library, which opened at 1001 Second Avenue in 1982. This newest location – still the home of DCPL forty years later – has seen the implementation of numerous new changes. Newspaper articles from 1984 suggest that DCPL, along with other Kansas libraries, were working on making their inventories available online in what was considered a “technological breakthrough.” By 2002 this technological breakthrough was a reality for library patrons, as DCPL received sixteen computers and a printer for free through a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The library has only continued to grow with time. The year 2019 for example saw the library continue to improve and expand its services, establishing a new children’s library and becoming the new home for the Kansas Heritage Center. The Kansas Heritage Center contains numerous books for research and an archive through which patrons can learn about and research the history of Kansas and Dodge City. DCPL has served the community of Dodge City for the past 115 years and continues to do so, offering various materials such as books, movies, and video games, to residents of Dodge City.