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Public Information and Communication

October 11, 2017

Mary Jo Ryan

Nebraska’s Champions of Literature and Literacy Honored

The Nebraska Center for the Book will present the 2017 Jane Geske Award to American Life in Poetry and Ted Kooser at the October 21 Celebration of Nebraska Books in downtown Lincoln. This weekly newspaper column, created and compiled by Ted Kooser, 2004-2006 U.S. Poet Laureate, exemplifies dedication to contemporary poetry in Nebraska and beyond. The project is a partnership of the Library of Congress, The Poetry Foundation, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The Nebraska Center for the Book annually presents the Jane Geske Award to organizations, businesses, libraries, schools, associations, or other groups that have made an exceptional contribution to literacy, books, reading, bookselling, 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 the director of the Nebraska Library Commission, a founding member of the Nebraska Center for the Book, a Lincoln bookseller, and a long-time leader in Nebraska library and literary activities.

The Nebraska Center for the Book will also present the 2017 Mildred Bennett Award to Nancy Johnson of Central City. This dedicated volunteer is honored for her contributions to Nebraska’s literary tradition, including her long-term efforts on behalf of the Lone Tree Literary Society promoting the life and work of Wright Morris and many years of service to the One Book One Nebraska program.

The Mildred Bennett Award recognizes an individual who has made a significant contribution to fostering the literary tradition in Nebraska, reminding us of the literary and intellectual heritage that enriches our lives and molds our world. The award recognizes inspired leadership and service on behalf of Nebraska literature, highlighting how the recipients follow the example of Mildred Bennett, the charismatic founder and long-time President of the Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial and Educational Foundation. The award seeks to heighten awareness and interest in Nebraska’s literary heritage and to enrich the lives of Nebraskans and readers everywhere.  

The Presidential Award for Literacy will be presented to the Hastings Literacy Program.  This program is recognized with this special Nebraska Center for the Book Presidential Award for service to the Hastings community and surrounding area, providing educational support for hundreds of adults including assisting them with reading, language, and other basic skills needed to meet the challenges encountered in daily life and to take full advantage of opportunities in society.

 The Presidential Award for Literacy is a special award given this year. This discretionary award allows the Nebraska Center for the Book to honor exemplary programs, bringing recognition to the Hastings Literacy Program’s efforts and highlighting their success with literacy programming. This is the first time the Nebraska Center for the Book has made this award.

The October 21 Celebration, free and open to the public, will also feature presentation of the 2017 Nebraska Book Awards, and some of the winning authors will read from their work. A list of winners is posted at The Celebration of Nebraska Books is scheduled for 2:30 - 6:30 p.m. at the Nebraska History Museum, 131 Centennial Mall North, Lincoln NE, with the Nebraska Center for the Book Annual Meeting to be held prior to the Celebration at 1:30 p.m. A keynote presentation at 2:45 p.m. will feature the 2017 One Book One Nebraska selection, Black Elk Speaks (University of Nebraska Press) by John G. Neihardt. Timothy G. Anderson, author of the biography Lonesome Dreamer: The Life of John G. Neihardt (University of Nebraska Press) will speak. An awards reception honoring the winning authors, book signings, and announcement of the 2018 One Book One Nebraska book choice will conclude the festivities.

The Celebration of Nebraska Books is sponsored by Nebraska Center for the Book and Nebraska Library Commission, with support from the Nebraska State Historical Society’s Nebraska History Museum and Friends of the University of Nebraska Press. Humanities Nebraska provides support for One Book One Nebraska. For more information see and

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 national Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and 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 Website, .



For more information, contact Tessa Terry.