By Brenna Eller
Editor In Chief
Those who have been to the Hutchinson Public Library may not know that there is an interesting history right in front of them.
Some have noticed when Google searching, “Most haunted places in Kansas”, that the public library usually appears at the top of the list.
From library employees to patrons, many people have claimed to encounter the ghost of a librarian named Ida Miranda Day-Holzapfel, who was one of the first librarians at the Main Street location and worked all over Kansas in several different libraries. Kate Lewis, who works as Marketing and Communications at the library, researched Ida Day and found a lot of new information that most never knew, and sent it to Reno County Museum.
Lewis said that Ida Day had unfinished business at the library and believes that the high electromagnetic field in the basement explains why she seems to be most active in there.
Lewis said that Ida Day was born in Colony in 1888 and was hired at Hutchinson Public Library, then located at 5th and Main Street – now the Union Labor Temple – in 1916 at the age of 28 after being a teacher in Colony and Iola. She made $75 a month and was given a two-weeks paid vacation.
In 1917, during the library remodeling, “Ida and her assistants cataloged and classified every book, a thing which was never done before,” Lewis said, “One of the best ideas which Miss Day has inaugurated into the system of management is the perfection of the reference arrangements.”
Lewis also said that Ida helped people look up any number of books. Ida also mounted and classified 3,000 pictures during this time.
One of Miss Day’s many achievements was sending books out to soldiers during WWI in 1918.
Ida Day was library director from 1916-1925.
In 1925, Ida took a leave of absence for a year to study at the University of Kansas. In 1926, Ida resigned.
Ida was married at the age of 52 to John Holzapfel, in 1940.
In 1946, Ida returned to the library, and there had been plans for another remodel since the population doubled. They wound up building a new library, which is where it is now. Ida even wrote an article for the Library Journal in 1949, which was titled, “Hutchinson Builds Modern Library”, where she described the modernization that was taking place and even included blueprints for the new library.
Ida yet again served as Library Director of the Hutchinson Public Library from 1946-1954
Her husband died in 1948, the same year her sister, Sarah Elizabeth Mather, died.
On Feb. 1, 1954 Ida resigned from the public library and prepared herself to become head of the catalog department at the Tulare County library system in Visalia, Calif. on March 1.
“A wish to be relieved from the administrative duties prompted the change,” Holzapfel said.
She was going to keep her home in Hutchinson at 430 East 12th, which is one of the student/faculty parking lots of Hutchinson Community College.
Ida Day died from a fatal car accident in California at the age of 65.
Lewis was one who has experienced unexplainable things in the library, one of which was when she first was given a tour of the basement and got chills where she felt the hair on her head stand up.
Another experience was while taking photographs with her 7-year old daughter for a stuffed animal sleepover program.
“She doesn’t know about the library ghost,” Lewis said. “I didn’t want her to be scared of the library.”
They walked to the location where the Children’s Services supplies are, which include puppets and paper-mache sculptures in the oldest area of the building built in 1951.
“I thought my daughter would be fascinated,” Lewis said, “Instead, she instantly said that she didn’t like the room and that it felt scary.”
Lewis also said that her daughter didn’t want her to take pictures of the animals and just wanted them to get out of there.
The Hutchinson Public Library Business Manager, Tina Stropes, had a strange encounter with Ida Day about 15 years ago, in 2003. Stropes was working on payroll, adding up timesheets when her calculator started printing “0.00” repeatedly.
“We decided that it was Ida Day wanting to get paid, but she didn’t work any hours,” Stropes said.
That isn’t all that happened, because the next month of doing payroll, Stropes’ calculator did the same thing and she told Ida that she wasn’t working any hours so she wasn’t getting paid and the calculator stopped.
There were other experiences, such as visitors being poked and no one would be there, and some had feelings of being watched.
Whether a believer of ghosts or not, the Hutchinson Public Library is a historical building with an interesting past and is worth the visit to many.