Janet McDonald

Written By: nppladmin - Apr• 30•22
Originally published to facebook.com/NorthPlattePL on April 29, 2022.

Today’s Facebook Friday post looks at a problem today that you may be able to help solve, and we look at the person who was instrumental in making this happen in the first place, library & history lover and library/museum supporter, Janet McDonald.

Did you know that the North Platte Public Library’s elevator is permanently broken?  In the fall of 2021, after 43 years of service, the Library’s elevator gave its final ride and is no longer operational.

The Library has experienced several budget cuts and this expense was unplanned and unbudgeted. So, the Library is kicking off a “Give Us a Lift!” campaign to raise funds for a new elevator.  Consider giving towards this worthy cause by donating to the NPPL Foundation at: https://www.northplattegiving.org/NPPLFoundation  

As our library patrons know, the library facility was built with a mezzanine level overlooking the main body of the library. Library services on the mezzanine level are: Young Adult Collections, Nebraska Collection, Genealogy Collections, Archived newspapers and magazines, Computer Center, and Library staff office spaces. These collections and services take up too much space to bring down to the first floor, and an elevator is needed by all sorts of people utilizing the mezzanine level: older citizens, persons who have mobility issues (crutches, scooter, wheelchair, etc.), parents/caregivers with strollers and small children, etc. Therefore, we need to put in a new elevator and the total cost is estimated at $300,000 dollars. We are getting our “Give us a Lift!” campaign kicked off during the month of May.

So let’s look at a little elevator history.  The North Platte Public Library located at 120 W 4th Street was built in 1967, and when originally built, it did not have an elevator. By 1970, it was apparent that in order to utilize the mezzanine level that an elevator would be needed.  And this is where Miss Janet McDonald comes in.  Read on!

Janet McDonald was the only surviving daughter of William H. and Mary “Minnie” (Belton) McDonald. She was born September 13, 1896 in North Platte and attended North Platte High School. During High School, Janet served on the Roundup committee as a student assistant (1911-1912).    Here are two inserts from the NPHS Roundup:

November 1911 Roundup…

“After tricking the whole H. S. for a couple of weeks, the Sophomores succeeded in having their class party entirely unmolested at the home of Janet McDonald. The house was beautifully decorated with class colors, blue and white. After an evening of fun, the party broke up with their class yells.”

December 1911 Roundup…

“The Esperanto club held a very pleasant meeting at the home of Janet McDonald, Dec. 9. For once all members were present on time. After an interesting program had been given the rest of the evening was spent in playing games, using the Esperanto in speaking.”  Researchers note: Esperanto is an artificial language created in 1887 as an international language for communication, based on roots from the chief European languages.

After High School, Janet attended Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York as well as the Northwestern School of Music in Evanston, Illinois. Janet enjoyed singing and played the piano. During her twenties, Janet enjoyed college, taking a semester or two from both Columbia University and the University of Nebraska.

Although Janet never married and hand no children, she was very involved in the North Platte community and belonged to many local clubs & organizations. She belonged to:

  1. American Association of University Women (AAUW);
  2. Travel and Study Club;
  3. Presbyterian Church Women’s Circles;
  4. Presbyterian Women’s Association;
  5. Daughter of the American Revolution-Sioux Lookout Chapter (charter member);
  6. Monday Musicale;
  7. Bridge Club;
  8. PEO (charter member of EB chapter)
  9. Eastern Star (Sigma Chapter No. 55)-50-year member;
  10. North Platte Public Library Board member

She was frequently the hostess and guest speaker for many of the organizations in which she was involved. In her leisure time, Janet also enjoyed playing golf and won the 1928 Ladies handicap Tournament.

Janet McDonald died at age 75 on May 22, 1972 in her home.  Her home was the residence located at 600 S Carr Avenue. 

Miss Janet McDonald’s Last Will and Testament was lengthy and her estate was left to a small group of people and several organizations. The largest share of the McDonald estate was designated for a main building for the North Platte College and the will stipulated that the building be named and known as the “McDonald-Belton Building.” This building was constructed and is still the main Mid-Plains Community College building located off of State Farm Road.

Janet also left $15,000 to the North Platte Public Library for the specific purpose of installing an elevator in the library building. Her will stipulated that if the elevator had already been added by the time of Miss McDonald’s death, the money was to be used to purchase art and music books. Janet also left all her remaining books, pamphlets, magazines, music, scrapbooks and newspaper clippings to the library. Hence, the City kicked in more funds and the elevator was added to the building around 1976.

We hope that you consider helping our fund next week during North Platte Giving Day. Look for more upcoming “Give Us a Lift” Elevator Campaign fundraising events over the coming year. Please contact Sky Seery, Library Director for more information: 308-535-8036 or seeryse@ci.north-platte.ne.us

Thank you for reading!


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