Historical Details

Niobrara County Library is Celebrating 85 years in 2004

Courtesy of The Lusk Herald, 04/30/2004

Progress! The Niobrara County Library is celebrating 85 years in its present location during 2004.

From 1913 to 1919 the library was known as the "Stillman Public Library of Niobrara County." Named in honor of Lusk's only centenarian, Mrs. Sarah M. Stillman, mother of the late Cornelia M. Lusk who was the mother of the late Frank S. Lusk, co-founder of the town of Lusk.

While in a downtown location members of the Civic Improvement Club became interested in taking advantage of the Carnegie Corporation Plan and was the sponsor of a subscription drive where interested people gave money for the purpose of purchasing a suitable site for the erection of a building. Lot 5 and the south half of Lot 6, Block 18, which is on the corner of 5th and Main Streets, were purchased June 29, 1917 from Mrs. Lena Henry at a cost of $550.00.

The Carnegie Corporation of New York had agreed to donate a sum for the erection of a free library building as early as June 1914 but it was not until July 3, 1918 that a resolution was acted upon and $11,000.00 was furnished to build the building. The library opened in September of 1919.

Completed in 1999, much needed handicapped access was obtained through an addition to the east of the original building. Funds for this project came from federal, state, local and private donations.

The library is a busy place and averaged 65.156 patrons per open day during fiscal year 2002-2003. Programming is a big part of library service and children's programs averaged 44.50 children per week in programs during this past fiscal year. The average circulation was 102.896 items per open day.

In April of 2000 the Niobrara County Library Foundation, Inc. established an endowment fund with a long-term goal of acquiring 1.5 million dollars for the long-term financial stability for the library.

The foundation is currently participating in "The Partnership to Raise Community Capital" which is a matching challenge grant with the Kresge Foundation and the Wyoming Community Foundation. The goal selected for this program is $250,000 and once the balance is achieved by December 31, 2004 the endowment will receive $83,333. As of March 31 a total of $107,509.31 has been raised and efforts are underway to complete the balance.

The Friends of the Niobrara County Library, Inc. work steadily to help with funding for programs, books and endowment fundraising. Annually, during Alumni weekend an Ice Cream Social and Book Sale are held, the Friends have also published a cookbook and held raffles as well as bake sales and collected Decker's Receipts. Each year with a grant from the federal program, "Reading is Fundamental" three programs are held to promote literacy for the youth of Niobrara County. The Friends have partnered with the NCHS Future Business Leaders of America to provide these programs. The FBLA has also provided in-kind support in publicity, marketing and has also provided funds for the endowment.

The goal of the 85th year is to create solid financial footing for the next 85 years.

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Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Henry, Lena (08/13/1857 - 03/15/1945) View Record