Beatrice Public Library has a variety of offerings

2022-12-01 16:31:19 By : Ms. Ellen Zhao

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The Beatrice Public Library has been a part of the city of Beatrice since 1893, and the first library entity in town can be traced back to 1873. Hexagonal Drill Rod

Beatrice Public Library has a variety of offerings

Plans were formed to build a new library in 1988 and came to fruition in 1991 when the current library at 100 N. 16th St. was opened.

In 2018 a $1.3 million project to renovate the lower level of the Beatrice library was completed. The addition allowed the library to bring in new art exhibits.

The Beatrice library features a maker space, with a variety of equipment. 

You can go to the Beatrice Public Library to check out a good book, and more.

A lot more, according to Library Director Joanne Neeman.

Beatrice’s library has numerous amenities for kids and adults alike, that many in the public aren’t even aware of.

“We still require an inside voice, but by no means is it the quiet, dusty place everybody thinks of,” she said. “It’s a fully-alive and action packed place. We just had one of the schools come in for family night last night and they had a scavenger hunt where they had to find certain things in the library. It is a very family-friendly place where you don’t just get a book, sit in the corner and read. There are LEGOs, different kinds of blocks, we have a giant Lite Brite peg board and it reflects the sun or the light behind it.”

Neemann, who has worked at the library for nine years and been the director for the last two, said the library has placed an emphasis on interactive-activities for kids, in addition to the myriad of books it's known for.

One of those is a wind tunnel where they can place different kinds of fabric inside. They can see some whoosh out the tunnel, while other, heavier pieces just float in place.

Another activity is harmony pedals. Children can strike them with a mallet to hear what kind of sounds they make.

For adults, there’s the maker space area. It has a 3D printer, laser cutter that can handle glass, wood, some metals and brick, a CNC router, an embroidery machine, heat press, button maker and a traditional sewing machine, all available for the public to use.

The third Thursday of the month two classes are offered, each focusing on a different machine so you can learn to use them, or just watch a demonstration. Anyone interested can also schedule a time to learn how to operate a machine.

Naturally, the library also hosts multiple reading groups. Every third Thursday a book discussion is held, and another group, “Stitch One, Read Two” where people gather to knit and or work on whatever their project is while discussing what they’ve been reading. Children’s Story Time is held Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m., and features guest readers that include firefighters and police officers.

Neemann added the building is also beautiful, and highlighted the lower level, which was renovated in 2017 from a basement space with a walking track people could use to circle around the near-vacant lower level to a beautiful area that sports rotating art displays.

“Downstairs we always try to have an exhibit of some kind,” she said. “Coming up in March and April will be the Sheldon Art Gallery in Lincoln and SCC are having their annual student instructor exhibit and then from Kearney the Nebraska Museum of Art is sending us an exhibit. It is just a wonderful building. I came in nine years ago and the lower level was a walking track and now this lower level is just so beautiful. It’s just fun to come into and very relaxing. We have a very charming library.”

The library has been a part of the city of Beatrice since 1893, and the first library entity in town can be traced back to 1873.

For 20 years before the library became a city department, it traveled from several locations including the now demolished House of Seven Gables building on Ella Street.

At that time, it was owned by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and emphasized temperance materials.

Then the library moved into two rooms of an old post office, which is currently the U.S. Bank, before moving into the historic Carnegie Building on Fifth Street in 1903. The building was designed by Andrew Carnegie, who built nearly 70 libraries in Nebraska from 1899-1917.

Former library director Laureen Riedesel worked in the Carnegie building and current library during her 43-year career.

“The question from people who never used the Carnegie building as a library is ‘How did you ever fit a library in here?’” she said. “They can’t even see how it even worked as a library. The answer in part is the changing nature of libraries. On one hand they’re always trying to have a collection you can come and use, but at the time the Carnegie was built there were a lot fewer books in the world.

“That whole lower level was intended as an auditorium meeting room. The Carnegie was upstairs. The idea was people would come and hear lectures then go upstairs and check out books on that. What was being published in a very traditional form is what there was. There was a time when a self-published book would not find its way into a library because it wasn’t taken seriously. Now I can't imagine a public library without books that people have published themselves.

Plans were formed to build a new library in 1988 and came to fruition in 1991 when the current library at 100 N. 16th St. was opened.

Riedesel said it was tough to get everyone on board with building a new library, in part due to the historical significance of the Carnegie building.

“There was a lot of emotion tied to the Carnegie building as it is a beautiful building in its own right, and it literally says it’s the library in stone above the door,” she said. “The thought of ‘do we really need to leave that?’ was in a lot of people’s minds when we approached that, and if we leave it are we leaving it for something as attractive as we’re leaving behind.”

The location was once home to a mansion, and was then an empty lot for around 25 years after plans for a grocery store fell through.

The building was carefully designed to meet the library’s needs, complete with meeting rooms accessible when the library is closed and a full basement, which was recently renovated.

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The Beatrice Public Library has been a part of the city of Beatrice since 1893, and the first library entity in town can be traced back to 1873.

Plans were formed to build a new library in 1988 and came to fruition in 1991 when the current library at 100 N. 16th St. was opened.

In 2018 a $1.3 million project to renovate the lower level of the Beatrice library was completed. The addition allowed the library to bring in new art exhibits.

The Beatrice library features a maker space, with a variety of equipment. 

Beatrice Public Library has a variety of offerings

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