Mid-Continent Public Library celebrates historic 50th birthday

ROSS MARTIN/Citizen photo Platte City mayor Frank Offutt, right, and officials with the Mid-Continent Public Library held a proclamation ceremony Tuesday, Nov. 10 at the Platte City branch to celebrate the system’s 50th birthday. Events were held throughout the day at all 32 branches of the Mid-Continent system, which includes nine buildings in Platte County. The City of Platte City celebrated the history of its local library Tuesday, Nov. 10 in conjunction with the observance of the 50th birthday of the Mid-Continent Public Library system.

Frank Offutt, mayor of Platte City, appeared with library officials during a quick ceremony in the afternoon, presenting a proclamation in honor of the anniversary. While Platte City’s library history dates back many years, it became a part of the Mid-Continent system in 1965, officially incorporating in 1978.

In fact, Platte City, Dearborn, Camden Point, Edgerton, Parkville, Weston and Riverside were a part of the 24 branches in existence in 1978. The Boardwalk branch (1994) and Library-to-Go facilities in Platte County joined in 1994 and 2011, respectively.

The Mid-Continent Public Library system — the largest geographical library system in the 48 contiguous states — now contains 32 locations.

Each of them celebrated with birthday parties at various times on Tuesday, and Mid-Continent released a children’s book specially written for the anniversary along with unveiling a new mascot. There almost 100 activities scheduled throughout the day.

The partnership between local communities and Mid-Continent Public Library continue to be strong and important, according to Offutt.

After World War II, Jackson, Clay, and Platte counties created their own public library districts to separate public libraries being defined by their attached school district. The three library districts began working together in 1964 in an effort to combine and multiply the educational effects the library could have on residents of all ages.

After years of partnership, the county districts of Jackson and Clay combined their administrative services in 1965. Platte County joined the then-named, Mid-Continent Public Library Service in 1968. All three districts kept their own governing boards and budgets.

On Feb. 20, 1979, the Platte County Court voted to officially consolidate the Platte County Library District with Consolidated Public Library District No. 3, also known as the Mid-Continent Public Library.

The original Platte City facility was located at 255 Main St. but was destroyed during a fire in January of 1975. A temporary location was used for a few months at 220 Main St., and the Soper Building housed the library from June 1975 until March of 1986 when construction finished on a new facility at 412 Main St..

The current Platte City location at 2702 Prairie View Rd. opened in 2006, expanding the facility from 6,614 square feet to nearly 160,000. Future expansion plans presented at Tuesday’s celebration include automatic entry doors, landscaping improvements, outdoor reading area, display cases, new signage and sustainable features and practices.

Those are projected to be included by 2040.