North Platte Public Library Construction

Written By: nppladmin - Apr• 16•22
Originally published to on April 15, 2022.

In celebration of public libraries everywhere, this week’s Facebook Friday celebrates the construction of our very own North Platte Public Library.

The following post article and attached photographs are from “City Bones: Landmarks of North Platte Nebraska, second edition,” by Kaycee Anderson and Steve Olson; published and funded by the Lincoln County Historical Museum, 1912.

On July 27, 1904, William H. McDonald sent a short letter to the librarian of the Carnegie Library in Cheyenne Wyoming, stating, “Knowing no one to whom to apply for the necessary information, I take the liberty of addressing you and requesting information as to the proper procedure to be taken to obtain a Carnegie Library for a town of this size. I will thank you for any information on the subject and greatly appreciate some.”

Some time passed, whether to gain support for such an institution in the community or to follow the procedures that may have come in reply to McDonald’s letter, but eventually, on April 14, 1910, the North Platte Telegraph quoted a letter dated April 8, 1910, received by Mayor Patterson, stating in part, “If the city agree by resolution of the council to maintain a free public library at a cost of not less than twelve hundred dollars a year, and provides a suitable site for the building for North Platte.” This type of constraint on the requesting community was common only to Andrew Carnegie at the time and changed philanthropy forever. At the next city council meeting, a Library Board of Directors was established to oversee the project of building a public library in North Platte.

The first board meeting was May 9, 1910, and the minutes indicate that the original board members were: John Bratt, Charles McDonald, Butler Buchanan (elected chairman), E.T. Tramp, E.F. Seeberger, Dr. Nicholas McCabe, and Miss Annie Kramph (elected secretary.) Two remaining members, who were appointed by Mayor Patterson, were not present at the first meeting; they were W.T. Wilcox and E. A. Cary.

On May 19, 1910, the Knights of Columbus offered portions of Lot 1 and Lot 2 of Block 146, Original Town of North Platte, for the sum of $3,000. This site was apparently not liked or the sum was too high, for discussions continued for the next several months. However, this was the site that ultimately became the North Platte Public Library. Other sites discussed included the High School Block (current Wells Fargo Bank site), and the city-owned lots on West Front Street.

On January 24, 1911, the first round was rejected due to a tied board in the vote to award the contract. The building construction contract selected was for $8,676.00. Platte Plumbing and Heating Company won the plumbing and heating contract for $851.50, and North Platte Electric Light and Gas Company got the $86.20 contract to wire the building.

On April 10, 1912, the Carnegie Library opened to the public with an informal reception and speeches by Mayor Patterson, Dr. McCabe (Library Board President), and Miss Templeton (Secretary of the State Library Board). Mayor Patterson, who personally donated the first $500 in funding, is quoted in the April 12, 1912 edition of the Telegraph stating, “There is no act of my life of which I am more proud than that which marks my connection with the establishment of this library in North Platte. We can look forward to the day when all of us will be gone; knowing that the work we have started here will be doing good toward the advancement of the intellectual life of the city.”

In 1925, the building finally got restrooms installed.

In 1940, an addition was added onto the back side (west) of the building. Today, visitors can easily distinguish between the brick and foundation used for the addition and the materials used for the original building.

In 1967, a new library building was built behind and to the west of the original Carnegie Library. The new library opened in the fall of 1967, freeing up the old Carnegie Library for other uses. In 1968 it was part of the Mid-Plains Vocational Technical School; in 1973 it became the Community Center, a precursor to today’s Senior Center; in 1985 the building housed the Senior Center, RSVP, North Platte Handi-Bus Transportation System and the Clean City Committee. The building sat vacant and was used for storage between 1993 and 1998; then in 1999, the old Carnegie Library became home to the North Platte Area Children’s Museum. 

The North Platte Public Library celebrated its centennial in 2012.

April 3-9, 2022 celebrated National Library week. National Library Week was first sponsored in 1958 by the American Library Association (ALA) and continues to be celebrated during the month of April by libraries (school, public, academic and special) across the United States.

Thank you for reading!


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