Grants awarded to small-town public libraries

Six Nebraska public libraries recently received project funding, thanks to the generosity of a lifelong educator, the late Shirley Kreutz Bennett of Lincoln. Each year, the Kreutz Bennett Donor-Advised Fund, an affiliated fund of Nebraska Community Foundation (NCF), accepts proposals for matching grants for public libraries in communities with populations under 3,000.

Following Ms. Kreutz Bennett’s wishes, a Fund Advisory Committee composed of her nieces and nephews recommends grants in three areas: planning grants leading to accreditation; enhancement grants to improve library services; and facilities grants for new construction or the renovation, restoration or rehabilitation of current libraries.

All grants require a one-to-one match in local funding and evidence that the project has broad community support. Approximately $80,000 in grant funding is available each year. Grant seekers are encouraged to review the guidelines and application procedures at

“I would definitely recommend that library directors in eligible Nebraska communities take the time to apply for grants through the Kreutz Bennett Donor-Advised Fund,” said Dawnn Tucker, director of Lied Pierce Public Library.

“The grant funding that we received in Pierce has made a tremendous impact on the children’s programming in our library. We were able to purchase new books, movies, crafts, games and musical instruments to add to our children’s activities. These items have added new excitement, which in turn has increased the number of children involved. We are very thankful for this grant opportunity!”

For more information, contact Reggi Carlson, NCF communications specialist, 402-323-7338 or

The following libraries received grants in 2018:

Dundy County Library
A grant of $12,000 will help complete renovation of a building, which will serve as a new library facility and nearly double the space of the former building.

Dvoracek Memorial Library in Wilber
This library is located on a highway where parking is not permitted. The library received a grant of $6,250 to match funds for construction of additional parking spaces close to the main entrance for increased accessibility for library patrons.

Genoa Public Library
This library applied for and received two separate grants. The first grant in the amount of $1,000 will be used to purchase materials and supplies needed to incorporate a STREAM focus (science, technology, reading, arts, math) into children’s library programs.

A second grant for $5,000 will help with repairs to the library’s exterior brick mortar, and to complete additional façade renovation on the historic building that houses the library.

Howells Public Library
The entrance to this library was damaged by flooding several years ago. A grant of $6,000 will match funds to replace the front doors with automated doors, which will increase accessibility for library patrons.

Ravenna Public Library
A grant of $20,000 will help support the fundraising campaign for construction of a new library in Ravenna.

Scribner Public Library
This library is using its $1,500 grant to incorporate a makerspace in the library and provide science-based kits, mechanical sets and sewing machines for its after-school and summer programs.

The Kreutz Bennett Donor-Advised Fund has provided 45 grants to Nebraska libraries since it began annual grantmaking in 2012. Christa Porter, Nebraska Library Commission Director of Library Development, said this grant program is perfect for libraries that are not yet accredited. “Libraries can use grant funding to gather information for their Community Needs Response Plan. This might include paying for a professional to facilitate focus groups or to conduct personal interviews or surveys,” Porter said.

Other possibilities for non-accredited libraries may include one-time, or first time, costs that will help libraries earn points on the Accreditation Application. For example, help with purchasing an Integrated Library System, subscribing to online library databases, joining regional or statewide consortia, and expenditures for start-up technology purchases and services.

“Gaining accreditation is critical to our libraries. It opens the door to other outside funding,” said Jeff Yost, NCF president and CEO.  “In many small towns, the library may be the only place where some people have access to the internet.  Shirley’s legacy gift shows that she had great vision and commitment to people in our small communities. We are honored to help the family of Shirley Kreutz Bennett develop a strategy to share her passion for learning,” said Yost.

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