Library Centennial culminates with Open House

Heather Goddard/Special to the Herald Children’s librarian Tina Kitras works at her desk while a young girl looks at a book during the Centennial celebration open house Sept. 18. Kitras has made the books appealing and accessible to children.

LUSK – The history of the United States in its current form and culture is incredibly brief compared to many countries around the world, and the history of the American West is even shorter in the world view.

So, when a business or organization manages to make the 100-year mark, it is a big deal. The Niobrara County Library celebrated this centennial milestone in 2019. 

One of the originally commissioned “Carnegie Libraries” and rare for the fact that it continues to be architecturally intact as an original building, the Niobrara County Library has been serving the citizens of Niobrara county and the surrounding area for 100 years. They kicked off their celebration this year in the spring and it included multiple events around history (including a special art show) and reading challenges. 

On Wednesday, Sept. 18, the library hosted an open house and Business After Hours event, in conjunction with the local Chamber of Commerce, to showcase the building and their impressive collection of books. The library provides reading material to its patrons but is also much more. 

Thanks to the hard work of Director Debbie Sturman, circulation librarian Karen Alvis and assistant librarian Mae Smith, the library has a well-organized inventory of DVD’s, VHS, non-fiction books, audio books and magazines. Sturman has worked hard to keep the library relevant with multiple online book, audio and video services available, including online services Hoopla, Overdrive and RB Digital.

This is alongside the computers and internet service available, research resources, online research databases, music and performing arts programs, a children’s movie program, book club, dinner and a movie programs, art shows and a well-established and reputable genealogy program. The genealogy librarian, Jeanine Wade, is dedicated to filling in Niobrara history with an obituary/death notice database spanning the history of Niobrara County and its residents. 

Every school year, the library hosts after school programs for K-6 and there is, of course, the requisite story hour available year-round. 

Tina Kitras, the children’s librarian has also made Wii games, puzzles, a craft station, board games and educational toys available to the younger patrons of the library. 

The library in Lusk is both a literal and figurative cornerstone of the community. It was one of the first stone buildings erected on Main Street and has only grown more important to the county as time passes. 

The Niobrara County Library Foundation is instrumental in the success of this establishment. The Foundation not only financially supports the library through various fundraisers but it’s members volunteer to assist with most of the youth and adult activities. This group of citizens also provide extra hands during the annual library book sale and ice cream social. 

The Niobrara County Library represents the best of the community and stands as a symbol of all that is great about a small town and Lusk in particular. Here’s to another 100 years.

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