In 1965, State Librarian of Kansas LeRoy G. Fox pushed through H.B. 621 establishing seven regional systems of cooperating libraries. These systems were created for two basic purposes:

  • to extend library service to the unserved:
  • to improve library service where it already existed.

CKL Board President Bud Lewis in Great Bend and Hoisington Librarian Mrs. Walter Jonas organized CKL's first service and headquarters at 511 East Seventh Street in Hoisington. Claflin librarian Mrs. George Brunts and her daughter, Janice, and Mrs. Jonas and her daughters, Nancy and Janetha, processed rotating books for member libraries.

In July 1965, Hoisington Rural High School speech teacher, Clay Thompson, began delivering rotating books in a station wagon borrowed from Leon Whiteman to libraries in Plainville, McCracken, Great Bend, Ellinwood, Claflin, Ellis, Downs, Long Island, Stockton, Palco, Russell, Lucas, Smith Center, Kensington, La Crosse, Hays and Hoisington. The first deliveries were three boxes of children's books, two boxes of young adult books and one box of adult books.

By September 1965, the system had purchased a van with "Central Kansas Libraries" on the side. Until the late 1970s, the rotating driver selected the books, placed them in red yard-long wooden boxes for delivery. The driver had a key to each library because boxes of books were often swapped when the library was closed. In 1975, the driver made several rotations to Kensington's library before discovering that the Kensington Library Club had closed the library without telling the system. In 1978, librarians began selecting their own books from a rotating truck.

To improve interlibrary loan, CKL gave telephone credit cards to member libraries. Librarians used the cards to call the closest large library for interlibrary loan requests.

A statewide interlibrary loan network was established by October 1965. Librarians mailed to Topeka library postcards with their ILL requests. At 8 am each morning, Topeka library teletyped these requests to Salina and Hutchinson libraries. The three libraries owned over 1 million items.

Central Kansas Libraries held its first workshop in Great Bend Public LIbrary on November 12, 1965. Forty-three librarians and assistants from 17 libraries participated. By that time 31 libraries in 13 counties were members.

CKLS was officially organized July 1, 1967 under Title 1 of the Library Services and Construction Act. CKLS established by January 1, 1968 funding with its own mill levy on rural property. In 1967, a group of concerned citizens, who had been working together since the System legislation had been passed, hired the first CKLS administrator, Keith Trost.

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