Students in front of the Dickey Mansion on the university's opening day, 1933.
The library had five directors before Dr. Kenneth J. LaBudde, the most influential director, and the longest holder of the office.
Marjories Copeland (1933-1938)
Horace Moses (1938-1940)
Morris Kemp (1940-1943)
Leighton Brown (1944-1946)
Orville Eaton (1946-1950)
Dr. Kenneth J. LaBudde (1950-1985)
LaBudde held the directorship for 30 years. He was instrumental in achieving academic status for the professional librarians in 1971. This development at UMKC was concurrent with changes occurring in the field of librarianship nationwide, including a new focus on personnel instead of just services. The UMKC Librarians' Council was also created at this time to give librarians a way to participate in campus affairs.
LaBudde was also deeply involved in the planning of the new General Library building. Its modular structure and open plan were influenced by LaBudde's interest in library architecture, and the arrangement of materials was his design. It was first arranged in subject blocks with different disciplines on different floors, but he later decided to rearrange the different library departments by function.
The UMKC Friends of the Library group was formed in 1965 as a result of relationships LaBudde cultivated throughout Kansas City's citizenry. The organizations raised funds, procured gifts and endowments, and gave annual gifts to the library for the development of specific collections. The Friends of the Library remain an important supporter of the UMKC library today.
In 2002 the university library's Special Collections Department was dedicated in honor of Dr. LaBudde, and it now bears his name. The department received LaBudde's personal collection from his estate in 2000. It contains materials relating to his education, correspondence, and travel journals.