Small-Town Libraries Get Help from Kreutz Bennett Grants

Fourteen community libraries receive improvement grants Fourteen Nebraska public libraries recently received project funding, thanks to the generosity of a lifelong educator, the late Shirley Kreutz Bennett of Lincoln. Each year, the Kreutz Bennett Donor-Advised Fund, an affiliated fund of Nebraska Community Foundation (NCF), accepts proposals for matching grants for public libraries in communities with populations under 3,000. This year grants were awarded to libraries in Albion, Arapahoe, Bayard, Beaver City, Bridgeport, Cambridge, Elgin, Emerson, Grant, Newman Grove, Pierce, Plainview, Stanton, and Sterling. Following Ms. Kreutz Bennett’s wishes, a Fund Advisory Committee composed of her nieces and nephews recommends grants in three areas: planning for accreditation grants to support steps taken toward gaining accreditation; enhancement grants to improve library services; and facilities grants for new construction or the renovation, restoration or rehabilitation of current libraries. The following libraries received grants in 2021: Albion Public Library This library currently has an area for genealogy and the vision impaired. The goal of the grant is to expand these two sections and make them more accessible. Funds will also be used to purchase new oak bookshelves and a new desk for this expanded area. Arapahoe Public Library This grant will help pay for a new community room, ADA bathrooms, drive-up lane, service window, and new entrance in the vestibule. The new room will also be used for their afterschool program and summer programming. Currently, the adults must share space in the middle of the library during children’s programming. The renovation will allow the circulation desk direct sight of the children’s area and access to the new bathrooms and community room. It will increase safety for patrons and limit disruption by sharing space. The plans also include a new ADA parking space, ramp for ADA access and ADA push buttons for the doors. Bayard Public Library Bayard will use its grant to replace lighting, ceiling tiles and flooring. The funds will also aid an effort to remodel the front entrance to be ADA compliant. The purpose is to make the entire library space more inviting and brighter. Beaver City Public Library The grant will go toward the purchase of a photo kiosk and worktable near the kiosk. The kiosk will be used by patrons to print their photos as wells as for special programs such as making ornaments, calendars, etc. Bridgeport Public Library With this grant, Bridgeport will renovate a fire hall building next to the library into a community meeting space as well as a place to hold their STREAM program. The renovation will increase the library size by 2,000 square feet, allowing for a STREAM program room, conference room and large meeting room for the library. Butler Memorial Library (Cambridge) Cambridge will use its grant to enhance the children’s reading area of the library. They plan to add an adult reading chair, new rug, acoustic panels for sound control and a caddie with floor cushions for the children to use on the floor. Elgin Public Library This grant will assist with building a new community room in the library. Currently, many of their programs have grown too large to have at the library and must be moved to the Elgin Community Center. The new community room will allow library activities to stay at the library and provide another meeting space for Elgin. This new room will also provide more space for this storage as well as increased programming. Emerson Public Library Emerson’s grant will fund five raised garden beds as part of a lifelong learning program. Emerson will launch a program incorporating gardening, nutrition, food security and cooking. They will partner with their local gardening club for this project. This program will also provide intergenerational learning as children in the community learn alongside adults in the garden. Emerson Public Library will also receive a grant to renovate their library to make it more accessible. The project includes adding an ADA-compliant main entrance door with a push button, replace stairs at the side entrance with a new ramp and install ADA-compliant door handles throughout the building. Hastings Memorial Library (Grant) This grant is for funds to help create a permanent makerspace. Hastings Memorial participated in the Library Innovation Studio through the Nebraska Library Commission in 2019. This was a traveling makerspace that they utilized for 20 weeks. In that time, the makerspace was used by many different people to create, share ideas and learn new skills. They also used it for the after school program. This program was very popular, and it was clear that a permanent makerspace would be a great asset at the library. This grant will help purchase equipment such as laminator kit, button maker kit, embroidery/sewing machine, desktop computers and software, 3D printer, heat press, vinyl cutter and a CNC Router. Newman Grove Public Library This grant will purchase a cupboard and art supplies for a creative center. This creative center will provide many supplies for different crafts as well as offer the opportunities to learn new skills. The creative center will also be available to adults. Some of the items available will be a sewing machine and materials, craft items such as beads, construction paper, ribbon, buttons, colored pencils, rotary cutters, glues, canvasses, paints and more. Lied Pierce Public Library The Pierce library received a grant to help purchase supplies for their makerspace. They plan to purchase equipment such as a vinyl cutter, sublimation printer, heat press and graphic design software. The library believes these additions will assist in increasing digital literacy skills, help entrepreneurs in the area and give individuals access to technology outside of school. Patrons can use these services at no cost. Plainview Public Library Plainview also requested a grant to help purchase makerspace equipment. They will add a laser cutter and etcher to their makerspace. If they have enough funds, they hope to also purchase a 3D printer. There are plans to hold camps for all ages to provide opportunities for technological innovation and entrepreneurship. Stanton Public Library Stanton’s library is a historical building listed on the National Register of Historical Places. The building’s second floor is not handicap accessible. This grant will help fund a ramp to provide access to the second floor as well as serve as a second exit in case of emergency. Sterling Public Library This library is not accredited with the Nebraska Library Commission but plans to use this grant to work toward accreditation. The funding will help create a Friends of the Library 501(c)(3) organization. It will also assist with advancing the technology to enhance the services provided, such as offering e-books. The new Friends of the Library group plans to provide a workforce of nearly 20 volunteers to help with requirements of the accreditation process. About Nebraska Community Foundation Nebraska Community Foundation unleashes abundant assets, inspires charitable giving and connects ambitious people to build stronger communities and a Greater Nebraska. Headquartered in Lincoln, the Foundation serves communities, donors and organizations by providing financial management, strategic development, education and training to a statewide network of 1,500 volunteers serving 260 communities. In the last five years, 44,476 contributions have been made to Nebraska Community Foundation and its affiliated funds. Since 1994, Nebraska Community Foundation has reinvested $355 million in Nebraska’s people and places. For information, visit or contact Kristine Gale, Community Impact Coordinator, Nebraska Community Foundation, 402.822.0466,
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