About the Library
The Linda Hall Library is the world’s foremost independent research library devoted to science, engineering, and technology. A not-for-profit, privately funded institution, the Library is open to the public free of charge.
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
Since 1946, scholars, students, researchers, academic institutions and businesses throughout the Kansas City region, across the nation and around the world have used the Linda Hall Library’s collections to learn, investigate, invent, explore and increase knowledge. Hundreds of people of all ages attend the Library’s public programs each year to expand their awareness and understanding of science and technology.
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 Library’s 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.