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 to libraries in Northeast and North Central Nebraska were Albion, Elgin, Emerson, Newman Grove, Pierce, Plainview and Stanton.

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.

In total, the Fund has had an over $665,000 impact on Greater Nebraska communities with populations under 3,000 and dozens of public libraries across the state.

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.

Elgin Public Library

This grant will assist with building a new community room in the library. Currently, many of its 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. It 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.

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. It will add a laser cutter and etcher to their makerspace. If its has enough funds, the library hopes 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.

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