The Linda Hall Library is one of the world’s leading independent science research libraries. Through our collections, programming, learning resources, scholarly research programs, and collaborations, we bring science to life in new and relevant ways that help others better understand the world in which they live.
Since 1946, the Linda Hall Library has been amassing collections that have powered investigation, innovation, exploration, and inspiration.
It all began with a magnificent act of civic philanthropy. Together, Herbert and Linda Hall bequeathed $6 million to establish "a free public library for the use of the people of Kansas City and the public generally" to be named in honor of Linda and located on the grounds of their estate. The bequest did not specify the type of library it was to be but did stipulate that Mr. Hall’s cousin and business partner, Paul D. Bartlett, Sr., should be the first Chairman of the Library’s board of trustees. The trustees decided that a library dedicated to meeting the needs of all who seek scientific and technical information would be of great value to the Kansas City community and help foster its economic growth. Today, the Linda Hall Library collects materials in 82 languages and is widely known for the breadth and depth of its collections, its role as an international destination for research and scholarship, its support of teachers of STEM curricula, and the vast resources it provides to learners of all ages who wish to embark on journeys of scientific exploration.
The Library’s grounds are maintained as an urban arboretum that is open to the public for learning and enjoyment.
The Linda Hall Library’s first major purchase was the library of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1946. This acquisition provided a strong foundation for the Library’s collections, including journals, conference proceedings, monographs, technical reports, and much more. An exchange program supporting the interchange of materials with scientific academies and societies in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union enabled the Library to obtain valuable materials during the years of the Cold War.
In 1985, part of the library of the Franklin Institute was transferred from Philadelphia, and in 1995, the Engineering Societies Library (ESL) acquisition added depth to the journal and monograph collections with publications from its five founding organizations. Today, our collecting strengths include engineering disciplines, chemistry, physics, natural history, astronomy, environmental and earth sciences, aeronautics, life sciences, infrastructure studies, mathematics, and their histories. We house more than 250,000 industrial standards and are a patent and trademark resource center.
The Library’s original Board of Trustees consisted of five of Kansas City’s leading businessmen who were named in the Halls’ wills. Paul D. Bartlett, Sr. was designated the board’s first chairman and since 1941, four generations of the Bartlett Family have been represented on the board. The first trustees established a tradition of stewardship that has seen both the Library’s collections and its endowment grow impressively through the decades, assuring the Linda Hall Library’s ability to become and remain the library of record for printed materials devoted to science, engineering, technology, and their histories.
Today, the Linda Hall Library’s board of trustees numbers ten and is chaired by Marilyn Bartlett Hebenstreit, a granddaughter of Paul D. Bartlett, Sr. The trustees bring a wealth of expertise to their roles including science, learning, finance, philanthropy, marketing and communications, engineering, and construction. Together, they carry forward the Library’s legacy of excellence and service in ways that respond to contemporary information needs and learning objectives. Their commitment to the Linda Hall Library’s future will assure that it will be one of increasing learning opportunities for all who wish to enhance their understanding of the world around them.
Becoming and remaining the indispensable science library for students, scholars, and lifelong learners is the future of the Linda Hall Library. Two years ago, we embarked upon a robust three-year strategic plan to connect the Linda Hall Library and its collections, services, and programs to the Kansas City community and beyond. Achieving this objective has required non-traditional approaches to many of our core functions and the inclusion of new and emerging technologies, but the results point toward an exciting future for the Library and its constituents.
Our future will include the ability to access content whenever and wherever you wish to access it. Science-themed programs and events located on multiple virtual platforms in real time and on-demand will mean that lifelong learning will take place on your schedule. Enhanced digital access to some of the rarest and most important works in science history will bring these treasures from our shelves to your computer screens. With a few keystrokes STEM teachers will have access to supplementary content for classroom teaching. And students of all ages will be able to participate in online seminars taught by some of the country’s most eminent scientists and historians. The Linda Hall Library’s future is not only bright. It is limitless.