About the Linda Hall Library
The Linda Hall Library is a guardian of the collective intellectual heritage with regard to science, technology, and engineering disciplines; a destination for advanced research and scholarship, and a center for public education in the sciences.
Additionally, the Library's grounds are maintained as an urban arboretum that is open to the public for education and enjoyment.
Adopted December 11, 2010
It all began with a remarkable gift...
Herbert and Linda Hall lived in a large Georgian home located in the heart of the area that has become a cultural center of Kansas City, Missouri. Over the years Herbert Hall amassed a sizable estate through his grain business. Since he and Linda had no direct heirs, they carefully considered the disposition of their estate. They hoped "...that their wealth might build up an important cultural agency as a contribution to the city in which they made their home." (Kansas City Star, October 15, 1945). The result was a $6 million bequest to establish "... a free public library for the use of the people of Kansas City and the public generally..." (from the Halls' wills). The wills stipulated only that the Library was to be located on the grounds of their estate, and that it was to be named in honor of Linda who died in 1938. Herbert died in 1941.
In 1941, the Board of Trustees, consisting of five businessmen named by the Halls, hired consultants from the national library community to advise them about the type of library that should be established. After extensive research and briefings with local and regional leaders, the consultants recommended the creation of a science and technology library. The trustees named Joseph C. Shipman, a librarian and former chemist, as the Library's first director in 1945, and the work began to build the Library's collections.
In the late spring or early summer of 1946, on a date of which no one is quite certain, the doors to the Library opened to all who seek scientific and technical information.
The foundation for the collections was determined by the Trustees who defined the Library's area of specialization as "covering the fields of basic science and technology." Clinical medicine, dentistry, and business were excluded since other local and regional libraries collect these subjects.
The collection policy emphasizes the acquisition of journals and other serial publications. Monographs, conference proceedings, indexes and abstracts, documents, technical reports, and other reference materials are also acquired to support the journal collection. Although the Library has regularly acquired material since 1946, several acquisitions are specifically worth noting.
The Library's first major purchase was the library collection of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1946. This acquisition provided a strong foundation for the Library's collections including journals, rare books, and the exchange program that supports the interchange of material with foreign academies and societies.
A second significant acquisition occurred in 1985 when part of the library of the Franklin Institute was transferred from Philadelphia. Nearly 600 serial titles were added to the Linda Hall Library, increasing or completing runs of serials titles, and adding new titles.
In 1995, the Engineering Societies Library (ESL) was transferred to Linda Hall, an acquisition equal in significance to the Academy collection, and greater in the number of volumes received. The ESL collection added depth to both the journal and monograph collections, especially with material published before 1950.
The Halls lived in a Georgian mansion with carefully tended grounds of twenty-one acres in the heart of Kansas City. It was their home that housed the library from its beginnings until 1956 when the main library building of four floors opened. The architectural firm, Edward W. Tanner & Associates, designed an impressive building of clean lines with a brick exterior and an interior that reflects the surrounding environment with the use of large windows and oak woodwork.
The main building provided sufficient space for the growth of the collection until the early 1960s when plans were developed for an annex building which would house additional materials plus provide an auditorium and an exhibition room. The Annex, also designed by Tanner & Associates and completed in 1965, was constructed on the site of the Halls' home. Many architectural elements from the home were incorporated into the new building.
In the early 1970s, the Rare Book Room was expanded through the generous gift of Mrs. Helen Spencer from the Kenneth A. and Helen F. Spencer Foundation. Opening late in 1973, the addition doubled the space for the Library's rare treasures and is named The Helen Foresman Spencer Rare Book Room.
A four-floor extension on the south side of the main building, designed by Marshall and Brown Architects, was finished in 1978. The new addition completed the cruciform design in the Main Reading Room and added study, office, and shelving space.
The most recent addition to the library, designed by Peckham, Guyton, Albers & Viets, Inc. and finished in 2006 by J. E. Dunn Construction, was an expansion and renovation project that included a three-story addition to the Annex and renovation of the existing building. The library buildings now comprise 220,000 square feet of library space and include over 32 miles of shelving.