(Connie Jo Discoe/McCook Daily Gazette) [Order this photo]
(Connie Jo Discoe/McCook Daily Gazette)
While the house has the charm and character of a traditional bungalow, a modern-day library needs more than original yellow pine woodwork and half-wall room dividers with tapered pillar posts.
The Village of Culbertson and the library's board of directors plan a family fun night -- Sunday, Feb. 10 -- to help raise funds to build a new, modern library that will better meet the needs of library patrons.
Library director Cindee Wagner said the Culbertson Women's Club started Culbertson's earliest library as a book exchange among members in the early 1900s. Club members founded their first public library in 1909, and, in 1937, purchased their first permanent library location, a bungalow on New York Street, and lined three rooms with book shelves.
The bungalow has served the community well for many, many years, and Cindee said she and board members appreciate the history of the bungalow-library and the dedication of the women's club. The fund-raising effort for a new library "doesn't mean that this building doesn't mean something to us," Cindee said. "Unfortunately, it just doesn't meet the needs of a library for our community any longer."
The three rooms of books are small, and become very crowded when kids show up after school. Cindee's not a typical "hush-hush" librarian, but sometimes the noise level of "lots of kids in a small space" grows beyond even her acceptable library levels, she laughed.
(Connie Jo Discoe/McCook Daily Gazette)
The doorways into the children's room and the bathroom are 28 inches wide, and do not meet ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) standards. The bungalow also lacks proper wheelchair-accessible exits/entrances.
The wiring and windows are original to the house; the ground floor is cooled by one window air conditioner. Computers are pushing electrical wiring to the max, Cindee said.
There is no water heater, so there is no warm water to wash hands in the bathroom or in the kitchen.
The only storage on the ground floor measures 2x4 feet. The basement is unusable by patrons or for storage because of mold and foundation issues.
"The women's club and the village have maintained the building as well as they could through the years," Cindee said. "But there are so many things to fix or update." Renovation of the existing floor plan would not address space constraints, and all the needed repairs and updates could cost more than a new building.
The library is always busy, Cindee said, with tiny ones for story hours and older kids after school for homework, research and computer-generated projects. Culbertson adults are avid readers and also use the computers for access to Internet and/or the schools' web pages, Cindee said.
Some families do not have computers, printers and Internet service at their homes, Cindee said, and use the computers at the library. Because of the computer room's tight quarters, Cindee is concerned about the lack of privacy provided to computer users.
"Libraries have become more important the more digital our society becomes," Cindee said.
Cindee and the library board would like to expand services at the library to include, among other ideas, "Movie Night" with new releases; a quilt class; computer classes; and an expanded children's story hour.
The village board believes so much in the need for a new library that it has donated $100,000 in village funds and two vacant lots in downtown Culbertson. Cindee, the library board and a corps of volunteers -- calling themselves "Friends of the Library" -- need to raise $150,000 before ground can be broken.
Cindee wrote in a fund-raising brochure, "The Culbertson village and library board are committed to helping our community succeed. We want the public library to be all it can be, providing services to all ages, including educational programs. We cannot do this at this time due to space."
The hope is that construction of the new library -- located at the corner of Wyoming and Davenport, north of the former City Hall -- can begin this spring and summer. The proposed structure is a single-story steel building, approximately 60 by 70 feet.
Library supporters plan a family fun night fund-raiser -- "Fun for All, Big and Small" -- Sunday, Feb. 10, from 5 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. in the community building on the Hitchcock County fairgrounds in Culbertson.
The event includes a free-will-donation pulled pork supper with homemade sides and desserts, and silent and live auctions of donated items and services.
Cindee and her board members and volunteers are absolutely in awe of the many, many generous donations received thus far.
Anyone wanting to donate items for the auctions is encouraged to call Cindee at the library, (308) 278-2135 or at (308) 340-1174, or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Donations will also be accepted as memorials.
Anyone who wants to donate to the library effort but is unable to attend the fund-raiser may make donations to: Culbertson Community Foundation, 507 New York, Culbertson, NE 69024. The foundation and the library have 501(c)3 tax-exempt status.
All donors will be recognized during the fund-raiser, as well as on a donation board and memorial plaque at the new library.