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City of Crete Nebraska




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History of Crete Public Library

The first Crete Public Library at 305 East 13th Street was built through a gift from the Carnegie Foundation, and in use from 1915 to January 2020.

Like many small towns, women’s organizations sprung up after the Civil War, and Crete was no exception. In 1878, the Crete reading room was established by the Red Ribbon Club, a temperance organization. The library moved several times, ending up in City Hall in 1891. The Woman’s Club of Crete were the volunteer librarians and in 1912, the library had 4,521 books and a circulation of 20,500.

Crete had a population of 2,400 in 1913 when John Tully approached the Carnegie Foundation about getting a library. The Crete News on September 25, 1913 extolled its citizens to support the project, writing, “Let Crete citizens continue to lead and may her 4,000 good citizens boost, push, pull and boost.”

The Carnegie gift was $10,000, the architect was J. W. Salmon of Lincoln and the builder was John Kerst. Theodore H. and Mary George Miller donated the lots that eventually became City Hall and the library, completed in 1915. What is now called 'City Park' was first known as Miller Park after their generous donation.

The library and the city continued to grow and by 1967, the need for expansion became acute; however, the additional space was not completed until 1985 and included shelving for the non fiction and fiction collections, Nebraska Room, teen seating area, and handicap accessible restrooms. A lift was added for accessibility and the basement of the original structure included a small meeting room, storage, and a small children's program room.

In recent years, the library once again faced a shortage of space. A sales tax increase of one-half percent was approved by Crete voters in 2016 to provide for the new library and adjoining community room/storm shelter; funds were also anticipated towards community safety initiatives.The total project was fully funded at $7.4 million: $4.2 million from sales taxes, $2 million from grants, almost $500,000 from individual donors, $250,000 from the Friends of the Crete Public Library and $150,000 from local corporations.

The new Crete Public Library at community room at 1515 Forest Ave. opened on Jan. 30, 2020. Foundation and corporate donors, as well as a local fundraising campaign and sales tax increase, contributed to its construction.
The City Council accepted a bid of $5,559,000 from Sampson Construction in August of 2018 with a groundbreaking held just over a month later on Sept. 12. The city block formerly housed the city’s first modern hospital from the early 1950s until 2003 and then a Tabitha long-term care facility from 2003-2016. It was demolished in early 2018.

Crete’s new library and community room opened on Jan. 30, 2020 at 1515 Forest Ave. occupying 20,000 square feet of space next to a new park. The building, designed by BVH Architecture, includes the new library with youth, adult and technology spaces, separate community room and catering kitchen, which doubles as a storm shelter.