“April showers bring May flowers,” as the old saying goes, but at your library April brings lots and lots of activities. April is a month of many observances nationwide, including National Poetry Month, Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, National Autism Month, Stress Awareness Month and Jazz Appreciation Month. If any of these topics are of interest to you, you can be sure that Schuyler Public Library has information/books about them.
Of special interest to librarians everywhere is National Library Week, which will be observed April 10-16. First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation's libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support. All types of libraries -- school, public, academic and special -- participate. Schuyler Public Library -- your library -- will have special activities throughout the week to highlight the importance of libraries in our country.
Wednesday, April 13, marks a very special day, the 107th anniversary of the establishment of your library. Schuyler Public Library was established by city ordinance on April 13, 1909. The library was in the southwest corner of city hall. They started with 450 donated books. The city’s first appropriation was $600. They also solicited private contributions as pioneers in the cause of reading enjoyment, education and enlightenment for all ages, free of charge.
Nine “top-drawer” area citizens were appointed as library trustees, each required to post a $200 bond for the privilege of serving their neighbors, without pay. Mayor John E. Arnold was board president. Other members were the county attorney, county treasurer, school superintendent, a doctor, banker, lumber merchant, homemaker and teacher, Marcia Webber, who also served as the first librarian.
By 1911, the library had outgrown its space. The board consulted with the Carnegie Foundation and received $9,000 to build a new library provided the city would agree to maintain the facility at an expenditure of not less than $900 a year. The building was erected between October 1911 and January 30, 1912. The Schuyler community used that building for 62 years. By 1965, that building was filled to capacity. Through efforts of the library board, private contributions and revenue sharing, the present building was purchased and equipped. In April 1974 the doors to the new library, formerly the Otradosky Grocery Store, were opened. It had taken a lot of effort.
Since that time, there have been many improvements. In 1980, the front room of the library had an energy-efficiency renovation where a foyer was made, ductwork put in to encompass the entire room, some windows were permanently closed, the north wall was insulated, the ceiling lowered and new lighting put in. The north wall of the office was also insulated and a low-wall heating unit was installed. The old blower heater was removed from the ceiling. This was all paid for by the Schuyler Public Library Building Fund.
In 1983, the back storage room to the library was renovated into a multipurpose room. When that was complete, shelving was placed along the walls of the third room and all juvenile materials were moved to that room. The multipurpose room was used for Story Hour. This room was named the Brokenicky Room since money from Frank Brokenicky’s bequest was used. Moving the juvenile collection enabled the adult collection to be enlarged. Throughout the years more shelving was added and furniture was rearranged.
In 1984, the library received an LSCA Title II Grant from the Nebraska Library Commission for an energy-efficiency renovation of the upstairs. In 1988, the library received another LSCA Title II Grant to replace the heating and air conditioning system in the Brokenicky Room and children’s room. Matching funds were provided by the SPL Building Fund Corporation. In 1989, two walls were knocked out in the storage and periodical rooms off the office and it was renovated into a work room for staff. Money from the Richard Hrabak and Joseph Otrodosky bequests paid for these improvements.
The current facility has served the community well for many years. However, during the latter portion of the 20th century, library board members began to look at the feasibility of making more modifications to the facility. Many changes were taking place that affected how the library was being used in the community.
On Thursday, April 28, area residents can inspect the plans for the new Schuyler Public Library building, to be located at 108 E. 18th St., during a sneak-peek event. The plans will be available, along with coffee and doughnuts, from 10-11:30 a.m., and with cake and lemonade from 5-7 p.m. Everyone is invited to stop in during the day and see what the future has in store for your library.
Saturday, April 30, marks the 20th anniversary of El dia le los ninos, El dia de los libros -- Children’s Day, Book Day. The day highlights the yearlong commitment to linking children and families to books. It is a collaboration of national library and literacy organizations, educators, presses and readers to celebrate all children and the importance of reading in their lives. Stop in any time during week of April 25-30 and enjoy some of the special activities sheets and craft ideas designed especially for the observance.