When the Leavenworth Public Library was established in 1902, Fort Leavenworth had already been in operation for 75 years. Local business owners have catered to the military since before the city was established. Residents interact with active-duty and retired military on a daily basis as their neighbors and friends. It is not surprising, then, that among the thousands of materials the Library offers on every imaginable subject, included in the collection are numerous items related to the military.
Gracing the biography section are several prominent military figures, including an entire shelf about Kansas native Dwight D. Eisenhower. George Armstrong Custer, Douglas MacArthur, Colin Powell, William Tecumseh Sherman, Norman Schwarzkopf and George Washington, along with many others throughout history, join him. Several of these biographies are also available as audiobooks.
Narratives about minorities and women serving in the military, disabled veterans, the Veterans Administration, veterans’ mental health and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are included in the Library’s 300 section of non-fiction. The 900 section is a treasure trove of accounts and analysis of every war and conflict the U.S. has been involved with since the country was founded, as well as ancient, historic and modern conflicts involving other countries around the world.
In the new non-fiction area are a few books on the war in Ukraine. A new release, Conflict: the evolution of warfare from 1945 to Ukraine by General David Patraeus, is currently on order and will be available at the Library within a month.
For local history buffs, the Library offers a selection of historical information linked to Fort Leavenworth and leaders who attended the Command and General Staff College (CGSC). Accounts of the Buffalo Soldiers, disabled veterans, women in the military, as well as military memoirs and pictorial histories of Fort Leavenworth are available to browse from the Reference collection or the Kansas Room. A few of these are also in the biography, 300 or 900 sections of non-fiction and can be checked out. Books about Fort Leavenworth and the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks written by local authors, such as Ken LaMaster, are popular with military enthusiasts.
The State Library of Kansas offers Fold3, a genealogy service for researching military records of service members. A State library card is required for access, but it is free and staff can sign you up in a matter of minutes. Ancestry Library Edition is available to use on Library computers for other genealogy research. In the Kansas Room are records for the cemetery at Fort Leavenworth and the national cemetery near the VA campus.
During November, the Children’s department is featuring a display of children’s books that help kids in military families handle various situations, such as family members who are deployed or have served in combat. There are also books to help them cope with frequent moves.
Documentaries are unique in that they show actual footage, images, maps and interviews with people who served. The Library has a number of these in its video collection, in the 355 and 900 sections. Topics range from various wars to military weapons and vehicles to veterans’ stories. Documentaries and other films are also offered on hoopla and Kanopy, two digital resources available with a Leavenworth library card. In addition to documentaries and movies, hoopla has a number of eBooks and audiobooks on military subjects, as does Libby, another digital resource available to library patrons.
The Library has partnered with the Fort Leavenworth Department of Military History for several years on a monthly series that explores and analyzes military figures, battles and policy decisions throughout history. The current series, “People Making History,” is scheduled on the second Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. in the Library’s Jahn Room. Upcoming programs include Simpson and His “Uncommonly Normal” Army on November 9and Samuel T. Ansell and the War Over Military Justice on December 14. The Library also periodically schedules other military-related programs. On November 5, Eisenhower re-enactor Bill Nicks portrayed “Ike” with stories of his time in the military and as President. In November 2022, an Army veteran shared his journey down the Mississippi River as part of Warrior Expeditions, a non-profit, outdoor therapy program that helps veterans transition to civilian life after their wartime experiences. Many Library staff members landed in Leavenworth because they themselves are veterans or someone in their family is. On a daily basis, we salute everyone who has served, whether they want historical information about a particular battle, a board book for their grandchild or a light-hearted romance to read on a rainy day.