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History of Crete Public Library

first Crete library
592ecb16cc280The 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.
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 the 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 Kenst. T.H. Miller, president of the Crete State Bank, donated eight of the lots that eventually became the Post Office, City Hall and the library. What is now called, City Park, was first known as Miller Park after the Mr. Miller’s 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 ficiton 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. 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 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. The block will also have a new park.

new Crete libraryLaunch the second image gallery player
592ecb16cc280The 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 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.
Crete’s new library and community room, which opened on Jan. 30, 2020 at 1515 Forest Ave., occupies 20,000 square feet of space on the block, which 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.

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.