History of the Schuyler Public Library
The 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, a banker, a lumber merchant, a homemaker, and a teacher, Marcia Webber, who also served as 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.
There were many improvements to that location over the years. In 1980 the front room of the library had an energy-efficiency renovation where a foyer was made, duct work 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 united was installed. The old blower heater was removed from the ceiling. This was all paid by the Schuyler Public Library Building Fund.
In 1983, the back storage room to the library was renovated into a multi-purpose 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 multi-purpose room was used for story hour. This room was named the Brokenicky Room since monies from Frank Brokenicky’s bequest was used. Moving the juvenile collection enabled the adult collection to be enlarged. Over the years more shelving was added and furniture was re-arranged.
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. Monies from the Richard Hrabak and the Joseph Otrodosky bequests paid for these improvements.
That facility 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.
Staff and patron need for enhanced technology resources necessitated routing of computer wiring, installation of staff workstations, and additions of public access computers. Grants were written, matching funds were provided by the Library Foundation, and projects were undertaken in 2002, 2004, 2005, 2008, and 2009 that provided library patrons with access to twelve public access computers, WIFI service, five staff workstations, two OPAC computers, and computer reservation/print management hardware and software.
That library had been rearranged numerous times to make room for additions to library service. Projects were also undertaken to reorganize for the addition of an extensive assortment of audio CDs and DVDs, additional language learning materials, and to create a space for Young Adults to call their own. All of these modifications accentuated the need for more space to provide materials and services for patrons.
A 2001 architect study was conducted of the old facility. Although the building was structurally sound, it no longer met the needs of the community. More space to provide for community activities, expanded materials and services, and an open floor plan were needed.
The Schuyler Public Library Foundation worked with a committee of involved residents and Bierman Contracting to build a new public library for the community. The design includes 11,300 square feet on the ground level. It provides two community meeting rooms, a genealogy area, space for quiet study, a Young Adult area, a computer lab, and a children’s room. It also provides a small conference room, a director’s office, small lounge for staff and a book deposit window. The doors of this new facility were opened to the public on April 5th, 2018.
The Schuyler Public Library is funded by your tax dollars through the City of Schuyler and is governed by a five member Board of Trustees. The “Schuyler Public Library Foundation” 501(c)3 organization also has a seven member Board of Directors, two of which are Library Trustees.