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Public Information and Communication

October 24, 2003


Mary Jo Ryan

Nebraska Center for the Book Announces 2003 Jane GeskeAward
Grand Island Public Library and Foundation Honored

The 2003 Jane Geske Award will be presented to the Grand Island Public Library and the Grand Island Public Library Foundation, Inc. at the annual meeting of the Nebraska Center for the Book on November 2 in Lincoln. The library and foundation were honored for their rich tradition of service (120 years in 2004), their outreach throughout Hall County, and the variety of reading and literacy services provided.

Through a combination of significantly increased local tax support, the Library's Foundation funding, state and federal grants administered by the Nebraska Library Commission, and a very dedicated staff, Grand Island transformed an underfunded, understaffed and underutilized entity into one with greatly improved reading and literacy-based library services, resulting in:

  • 62% increase in checkouts
  • 72% increase in patrons visiting the library
  • 131% increase in summer reading program participants
  • 135% increase in bookmobile stops

Staff, board, and Foundation work together to provide a variety of reading and literacy-based services:

  • Grand Island Public Library Foundation, Inc. is the original and ongoing sponsor of the Abbott Sisters Project, and the Library houses the Abbott Sisters Research Center, encouraging reading and research about Edith and Grace Abbott, Grand Island social service pioneers.
  • Library staff participated in organizing the 2002 Nebraska Book Festival held in Grand Island and holds periodic book discussion groups.
  • The library organized the community's Literacy Coalition and the Family Focus Coalition, each made up of ten local agencies.
  • Through the library's BabyTALK program, volunteers visit parents and newborns at St. Francis Medical Center, spreading the love of reading and information about the importance of reading in early childhood development.
  • "Take Twenty" is a library program, provided in collaboration with the School District of Grand Island, to encourage parents to read to their children at least twenty minutes a day.
  • The library is the only Nebraska library participating in the national Libraries for the Future Family Place program. Components include Parent/Child workshops that focus on library resources for parents, interactive developmental toys for children, and community development professionals working and playing with parents and children.
  • Teen services are a recent focus, with a 47% increase in use of teen materials, compared to last year. Components include Teen Summer Reading Program, Young Adult Advisory Board, and regular programming for teens.
  • Programs and services are provided inside the library and through an expanded outreach program in Grand Island and throughout Hall County via bookmobile and other strategies, including partnering with the school district to offer Summer Reading Programs at selected local schools.
  • New programs (such as Spanish Story Time) are becoming important basic library services. Library participation in the community's Multicultural Collation is essential, directing resources to serve all citizens' reading and literacy-based needs in a highly diverse community.
  • Work is underway to identify support for a major expansion of the current facility in 2006, and a future branch location in northwest Grand Island.

The award, established by the Nebraska Center for the Book, is presented annually to an organization, business, library, school, association, or other group that has made an exceptional contribution to literacy, books, reading, libraries, or Nebraska literature.

The Jane Geske Award commemorates Geske's passion for books, and was established in recognition of her contributions to the well-being of the libraries of Nebraska. Jane Geske was a founding member of the Nebraska Center for the Book and a long-time leader in many Nebraska library and literary activities.

Past winners of the Jane Geske Award are Jane Pope Geske Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors at Lincoln City Libraries (1992), Nebraska Humanities Council (1993), Cummington Press and Harry Duncan (1994), Nebraska Press (1995), Independent Booksellers of Nebraska (1996), Prairie Schooner and Hilda Raz (1997), Friends of the Libraries of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (1998), John G. Neihardt Foundation and Neihardt Center (1999), Myer and Dorothy Kripke Jewish Federation Library (2000), Friends of the Omaha Public Library (2001), and Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center at Chadron State College (2002).

Nebraska book lovers (readers, writers, booksellers, librarians, publishers, printers, educators, and scholars) are invited to the Nebraska Center for the Book Annual Meeting and presentation featuring Dr. David Wishart, editor of the Encyclopedia of the Great Plains and Chair of the Department of Anthropology and Geography at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln . The Annual Meeting of the Nebraska Center for the Book will be held in the main gallery of the Great Plains Art Collection, 1155 Q Street, Lincoln, Nebraska on Sunday, November 2, 2:00-4:00 p.m. and is open to the public.


The Nebraska Center for the Book is housed at the Nebraska Library Commission and brings together the state's readers, writers, booksellers, librarians, publishers, printers, educators, and scholars to build the community of the book, supporting programs to celebrate and stimulate public interest in books, reading, and the written word. The Nebraska Center for the Book is supported by the Nebraska Library Commission. As the state library agency, the Nebraska Library Commission is an advocate for the library and information needs of all Nebraskans. The mission of the Library Commission is statewide promotion, development, and coordination of library and information services, bringing together people and information. The most up-to-date news releases from the Nebraska Library Commission are always available on the Library Commission home page.

For more information, contact Tessa Terry.