The acute lack of space that was already plaguing the library in 1916 only grew more pronounced with time. And with the boom in library usage during the Great Depression,
The space problem grew dire
In her Annual Report for 1935, Lillian Constant wrote,
We are much in need not only of building repairs, but of space to house our books. This need grows more urgent every day. We cannot discard as many books as we buy and the stacks in the regular stack rooms which were originally built for books are crowded to the limit. I hope this project will not be delayed for many months.
Only thirty years after the Carnegie was built, the library was set to explode from its confines in a bright burst of books and newsprint.
But the hard economic times had reminded the people of Lawrence how much they owed to their public library. It was one of the few places they could still depend on for unconditional help. And so for an institution that gave so much, it was hardly surprising that when the library asked, they received.
In 1936, the Kansas branch of the Public Works Adminitration—a New Deal program implemented in 1933 to provide employment and economic stimulation to stricken areas by constructing and restoring public buildings—chose the expansion of the Carnegie library as one of several construction projects in Lawrence to receive federal and state funding.
The expansion would cost $35,000
And a PWA grant of $15,750 was secured for the project. Yet, though without PWA assistance, the project would have been impossible, the city still had to pass a bond issue for $19,250 to cover the remaining construction costs.
On October 28, 1936, the city of Lawrence voted to authorize the issuing of bonds for the library project and shortly thereafter to accept the $15,750 from the PWA.
This was a savvy move that would result in employment for hundreds of people across Lawrence. But it was also a sign of the library's place at the center of the community. A bond issue would raise taxes at a time when many struggled for even the most basic necessities. Voting yes on this issue must have been a hard decision for many to make. And yet vote passed by a whopping margin, 60 to 40. Lawrencians may not have had much in 1936, but