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History of the Clarkson Public Library

This article was taken from the May, 29th, 1991 issue of the Colfax County Press.

The Sunshine Club, a social organization of high school-age girls, inspired by a commencement address given by Superintendent F.J. Vogltance in May 1921, started the library.  (Shades of “…  And Ladies of the Club” by Helen Hooven Santmyer, The book, well worth reading, is in the library.)

Original Members

The four original members of the club were Adalyn (Franek) Rozmarin, Helen (Pokorny) Wacha, Lillian (Bukacek) Hahn, and Rose (Prazak) Brabec, and others who joined later included Helen Schwartz, Eleanor (Kuderna) Balak, Irene (Wacha) Groulik, Martha (Hobza) Brabec, Martha (Smejkal) Subrt, Adella Rozmarin, Libbie (Faiman) Sixta, Adella (Urbanek) Dudek, Loretta (Miller) Clinkscales, Lucy Swoboda, Julie Prazak, Tillie (Markytan) Gruntorod and Lillian (Pokorny) Brabec.

“We (the Sunshine Club) met more for social reasons than for anything else,” Mrs. Clarence Hahn, then Lillian Bukacek, in a recent interview.

“After Mr. Vogltance said that what Clarkson needed was a public library, we tossed the idea around, and we decided that we needed a project and that project would be the library,” Mrs. Hahn recalled.  They asked Emma (Maliha) Cushatt, a teacher, to be their sponsor, so that it wouldn’t be “just a bunch of girls” starting the library, she said.

Josephine Filipi, a teacher of seventh and eighth grades in Clarkson, assisted the club in putting on plays to raise money for the library, she added.

Real Promoters

“We had a little red wagon, and we went around soliciting books and magazines and Czech papers – there were several published then and people read them.  Helen Pokorny and Rose Prazak were our leaders in this. There were the real promoters,” Mrs. Hahn said.

At first, the library was located in a home, and then in a small room in the old City Hall.  Sunshine Club members raised enough money to give it a start, through plays, bazaars and bake sales, donations from businessmen and a house-to-house canvass, and these same members took turns in caring for the library.

Miss Nellie Williams, executive secretary for the Nebraska Public Library Commission, as it was called at the time, and librarian for State Institutions, came to Clarkson in 1923 to advise and instruct the girls on how to organize the library.

Miss Filipi was a great sponsor for the plays, Mrs. Hahn said.  She obtained costumes from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln sorority sisters and generally helped out.

“After we graduated from high school, those who were still active in the Sunshine Club asked the Woman’s Club and the Village Board to help with the library, and they did,” Mrs. Hahn explained.  They added their support in 1928.

Mrs. Hahn remembers that Martha Hobza was the first paid librarian (50 cents per week).

When Mrs. Fred Noh became librarian, it was agreed that a secretary-treasurer was needed, and so Mrs. Edwin Kabes, then Martha Wolf who was with the Farmers State Bank, was asked to take over that volunteer post.  She accepted, although she was not a Sunshine Club member.

“I worked with Mrs. Noh and A.J. Vlach of the Village Board, who was really a ‘pusher’ for the library,” Mrs. Kabes said.  The three of them met regularly to discuss, decide and handle library matters.

Librarians, according to the Clarkson Centennial 1886-1986 book were: Mrs. Fred Noh, Mrs. George Bohacek, Mrs. Richard Harper, Mrs. Emma Makousky and Marilyn Castka.  In November 1988, Karen Bowlin became librarian, and hours at the library were increased from 11 to 15 per week.  The present librarian is Krisanne Cada.

Clarkson Memorial Library

In 1948, Phyllis, Lambert, and Dr. Emil Krahulik proposed a building fund for a new library in memory of their parents, Joseph and Mary Krahulik.  Joseph Krahulik had served Clarkson as the postmaster for many years, and the children spent their childhood here.  Donations came in regularly, and in 1959, a building committee was named. Members were Alan Dusatko, A.J. Vlach, Mrs. Frank Miller Jr. and Mr. and Mrs. Richard Harper.

The dedication of the Clarkson Memorial Library took place August 28th, 1960, when Anton J. Vlach on behalf of the Krahulik children, presented the new building to the city, and Mayor Richard Harper accepted it with the gratitude of the community.

The inscription on a bronze plaque in the entrance of the Memorial Library reads:

Dedicated to the Memory of Joseph and Mary Krahulik

one time residents of Clarkson, by their children – Phyllis, Lambert and Emil – in grateful appreciation for having had the privilege of passing their early years in a small town.  In this light, the true values of life are realized in dignity, honor and cooperation.  In a small town, noble character is molded by the spirit of friendly neighborliness.  In such the Golden Rule is law and truth is triumphant.

Improvements

Anna Husak, who served as president of the Library Board during the 1970’s, reported that a friend of Dr. Krahulik, Hal Brown of Glendale, California, sent checks amounting to more than $3000 to the library for improvements – shelving, a lowered ceiling in the basement meeting room, a vacuum cleaner, a typewriter and additional equipment.  Mr. Brown made these donations in gratitude to Dr. Krahulik for his kindness to his family.

Mrs. Husak said also that Theodore Filipi of Seattle, Washington sent several hundred volumes to the library: book club members donated books, someone gave Czech books and magazines, others presented books and money as memorials and the GFWC Clarkson Woman’s Club donated money (and continues to do so every year).

The board president gave a good deal of credit to Marilyn Castka for her work and for the volunteer hours she put in, and she also thanked the volunteers who helped her (Mrs. Husak) to catalogue all of the books in the library, an almost superhuman job.

Friends of the Library

In the autumn 1988, Don Goeden, Clarkson businessman and Tom Schulze, Clarkson Bank President, were instrumental in organizing the Friends of the Library, to help the Library Board in re-cataloging books, weeding books and planning to expand the Memorial Library building because more space was needed.  Between November 1988 and May 1989, Friends worked 723 volunteer hours in reorganizing the library.

Mayor Fred Wacha named a Building Committee to look into the expansion, the cost and a possible grant.  Members were Don Goeden and Tom Schulze from the City Planning Commission, and Eloise Odvarka and Darlene Miller from the Library Board.

Mr. Goeden, in a study of the Memorial Library presented to the City Planning Commission said, “The library is approximately 40 percent Over volume capacity … lacks work space, book storage and a climate conductive to a proper library atmosphere.”

He said that the total square footage is 1,756 and volume capacity is 5,650 volumes, and reported that the preset collection totals 8,230 hard-cover books and more than 1,000 paperbacks.  The solution?  He suggested building an addition to the Memorial Library.

Malena Memorial

The building Committee presented a plan to the Friends for an expansion of the Memorial Library to the west, but in applying for a federal grant, they found that a new building could be built at little additional cost and thoughts of a new building emerged in March 1989.

And in March 1989, Ida Malena gave the project $40,000 in memory of her husband, Adolph Malena.

Awarded Grant Funds

The Library Board received word on May 18th, 1989, that a grant of $62,855 for a new building had been approved.  The federal grant obtained through the Nebraska Library Commission had to be matched, and so it was with donations and memorials.

In 1989, Elizabeth Lukl, who had served 15 years on the Library Board, resigned from her position as president.  The board and city officials honored her at an Open House on January 28th, 1990 at the library, and presented her with a commemorative plaque.  Ruth O’Neal succeeded Mrs. Lukl as president of the board.

The Library Board employed the architectural firm of Krhounek and Povondra of Omaha, advertised for construction bids and awarded the Otte Construction Company of Wayne the contract for the $141,500 building at 318 Pine Street, across the street from the Post Office.

Ground Breaking

At a groundbreaking ceremony, October 1, 1990, Ruth O’Neal, Library Board President, thanked the Friends of the Library, particularly Don Goeden and Tom Schulze; Ida Malena, the Mayor, City Council, Building Committee, the American Legion Post 188 and VFW Post 6419 which donated the Vets Club, the Frank Millers who sold their warehouse to the city, the Morris Odvarkas and the late Anna Husak’s daughters who were instrumental in obtaining the final piece of property on Pine Street, Library Board members and others spent many hours on the project.  The new building was underway!

Services

The library has continued many of the services instituted by Mrs. Husak and her volunteer workers in the 1970’s.

Among these are cataloguing of new books, circulation of national magazines and large print books, published news of the library, an up to the date bulletin board, InterLibrary Loan Service, an annual sale of weeded out books and Summer Story Hours.

In addition, the library has earned state accreditation since 1989, has added books to it’s reference collection for public use, has added hundreds of new fiction and non fiction books for adults, youths and preschool readers, has offered newspapers to be read at the library, has been host to the GFWC Clarkson Woman’s Club Story Hour during winter months, has sponsored the annual Summer Story Hour, has conducted a survey to obtain suggestions and criticism from the public, has observed National Library Week, has installed a computer for the librarian’s use, has received another computer for public use and has purchased (with a donation)a microfilm reader for newspapers.

The librarian, Krisanne Cada, reports monthly on circulation and library usage to the Library Board consisting of: Ruth O’Neal, president; Mary Ann Manak, Darlene Miller, Eloise Odvarka, and Mary Drummond.  Evelyn Wellman is assistant librarian.  The librarian is taking classes for state accreditation, a requirement for the library’s accreditation.

Beautiful Addition

The 3,000 square-foot Clarkson Public Library at 318 Pine Street, to be dedicated and opened in the spring of 1991 is accessible to the handicapped.  It will have space for 10,000 books, a multi-purpose meeting room, a workroom, a children’s area, restrooms, and a furnace room.  Constructed o building block with a front facing of brick and a metal roof, the building as a back drop in the entrance way.  It has columns for lighting in the front, and the front plaza will be enhanced with exotic plants.

The building is considered “a beautiful addition” to Clarkson’s principle business street.

Donations to the Clarkson Library Building Fund continue to come in and the Library Board is grateful for them because furniture and additional equipment for the new building are needed.  The librarian has a “Wish List” if anyone would like to make a designated donation.

The Colfax County Press

Clarkson, NE 68629

May 29th, 1991


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