Five Good Things About Topeka: Topeka-Shawnee County Public Library

During the next two weeks or so, I’ll feature some of the things I liked best about living in Topeka. Here’s the first in the series. Enjoy!


When Chris moved to Topeka, one of the stops on our inaugural tour around town was the library. We saw the art gallery, the coffee shop, and the excellent bookstore.

I visited three times before I ever saw the stacks.

Topeka-Shawnee County Public Library. Photo from

The library, designed by Michael Graves, has pretty much everything you’d think it should have — a nice selection of books, including cookbooks and knitting project books (not that I ever finished anything before the book was due back, but still.) They have great movies and CD’s, and, when we first moved to town, they’d send them to you in the mail, free of charge. We determined it was our own free Netflix and took advantage of the service as often as we could.

But there are other great things, too. We saw the quirky French flick “8 Femmes” during one of their regularly scheduled international movie nights. We attended a thoughtful presentation on the Jayhawk Theatre, the State Theater of Kansas, which is now in ruins, hidden behind offices in downtown Topeka. And we saw an awesome Jim Richardson show of his travel photos. It’s always great to see and think about a Kansan traveling all over the world and bringing back ideas to share with us.

The coffee shop puts out good, hot chili with black beans, and homemade cinnamon rolls that are thick and gooey with just enough icing. And the bookstore frequently has vintage Kansas books for sale.

We’ve always told visitors that they should drop in. I’m not sure if any of them believed us.

But they should have. This place is great.

2 thoughts on “Five Good Things About Topeka: Topeka-Shawnee County Public Library

  1. Diana Staresinic-Deane

    My husband and I stopped in to see this library a couple of years ago for a presentation (they also have fabulous meeting rooms) and we were in awe. I follow their gallery’s facebook page and hope to have a reason to be in Topeka in the not-too-distant future so I can visit again. The library is truly a gathering space to take in knowledge of all sorts. Shawnee County is lucky to have such a treasure.


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