Opened in 1962, Ablah Library is the geographical and academic heart of the Wichita State University campus. The building replaced Morrison Library (now Morrison Hall), which was ill-suited to handle the expansion of new programs and students that followed World War II.
The initial unit for the Ablah Library was designed by John Hickman, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright. Hickman also designed Wichita’s downtown Century II Performing Arts and Convention Center. The library was to reflect a Prairie Style building both outside and in terms of the interior wood details. Most of these design elements have been obscured by the addition on the east which houses the Media Resources Center, and the west addition, which contains the new two-story library entrance and a light well to provide windows for the basement level. When viewed from most directions, Ablah Library projects a post-modern design concept.
The 1988 additions, plus major remodeling of the original unit and the Gardner Plaza that fronts the building, were designed by the Wichita firm of Schaefer, Johnson, Cox, and Frey with Kenton Cox as the project designer. In 1999, a 24-hour study room with PC access to the library catalogue was added and named for Kathlien Edmiston, alumnus, member of the WU Board of Regents and the WSU Board of Trustees, and life long friend of the University.