The Dorothy D.  Richards Kansas Room is a local reference collection that contains books, online resources, maps, microfilm, photographs, and genealogical resources that pertains to the rich history of Kansas, The Great Plains, The American West, its people and environment. Below you will find just some of the resources offered.

Online Resources

Digital copies of the Hays Daily News newspaper from 1929 to today, as well as other newspapers from across the state of Kansas.

This database of genealogical resources includes the complete U.S. Census, a multitude of city directories, Find-A-Grave records, military records such as draft registration cards and muster rolls, immigration records such as passenger lists and naturalization records, the Social Security Death Index, and birth, marriage, and death records (coverage varies by state).

*Only available for use inside of the library.

Accessible at home or at the library. HeritageQuest offers access to federal census records and city directories, U.S. Indian Census Rolls, slave schedules and Freedman’s Bank records, mortality schedules, agricultural and industrial schedules, and a variety of published family and local histories.

Accessible anywhere. The Kansas Digital Newspapers program, managed by the Kansas State Historical Society, makes over 3 million Kansas newspapers freely available online.

Accessible anywhere. This database offers a broad, statewide selection of digitized Kansas maps, photographs, and other primary documents from the collections of the Kansas State Historical Society.

Digital versions of the Ekey photograph collection. Accessible from anywhere.


The Kansas Room is home to an extensive collection of microfilm. Using one of our three microfilm readers you can look through historic copies of area newspapers and other documents dating back to the late 1800s. Using our digital microfilm reader, you can capture, crop, enhance, and print/email selections.


The Kansas Room is home to a large selection of High School and University yearbooks from various years and institutions. Yearbooks in the collection include:

  • Fort Hays State University
  • St. Joseph’s Military Academy/Thomas More Prep-Marian
  • Hays High School
  • Kansas State University
  • University of Kansas

Other Resources

Vertical Files

Housed in our vertical filing cabinets you will find a wide array of items covering a wide range of topics. Some of the items include photos, newspaper articles, historic documents, cemetery records, as well as many other items.

Genealogy Collection

We are proud to include local genealogy works in our Kansas Room collection. These include Volga German information, Bukovina Resources and Family Histories. These items were compiled by members of the community and then donated to the Hays Public Library where we happily preserve and house them.

Digital Book Scanner

We offer use of a high quality digital book scanner for FREE to the public. Using this device is extremely easy. With this device you can make digital scans or copies of items that are unable to leave the Kansas Room. This machine is capable of scanning fragile items as it scans items from above thus removing the need to press items flat as is done on a traditional scanner. For information on using the book scanner, contact the Kansas Room Coordinator.

HPL History

  • 1899


    The Saturday Afternoon Club, a literary organization in Hays establishes a reading room as a civic project. The project was funded by $1 annual donations by club members for maintenance, furniture, books, and magazines.

  • 1900

    The reading room was so well received by the community, the SAC Association opened a library on October 6, 1900 in an upstairs room of a local business at present day 12th and Main Streets.

  • 1904

    The library is formally known as, The Hays Free Public Library. The Ellis County Commissioners granted the use of the east lot of the courthouse square for the construction of a library building.

  • 1910-1911


    The library association began negotiating for a Carnegie Library in 1902. A donation of $8,000 was received from the Carnegie Foundation in 1910 for the construction of a library building. Construction was completed, and the library opened to the public on July 22, 1911.

  • 1964-1965


    Over the decades the old Carnegie Library fell into disrepair. Space was limited, and safety was a concern with structural problems. Many believed it was time for a new and updated library to meet the needs of the community. A referendum for a new library passed on the first ballot.

  • 1968


    The Old Carnegie Library was razed, and a larger more modern facility was constructed. The new library building was opened on December 8. 1968. In the years following its competition, the library prospered.

  • 2000-2004


    During the early 2000s, the library board and staff identified needs for a new facility. These included a new Young Adult Department, a Visual and Performing Arts Gallery, and an expanded Kansas Room. The Ellis County Commission warmly offered their land and in April 2001 the city voted to approve a sales tax for library improvements. The HPL Trust formed in 2000 to finance improvements and large-scale endeavors. The library raised $700,000 in private donations for a Carnegie Library replication exterior. Construction of the addition began on June 1, 2002, followed by renovation of the 1968 facility’s first and second floors. The grand opening of the newly renovated and expanded Hays Public Library took place on February 14, 2004.