150 Years: Lincoln Carnegie Library
The first library in Lincoln was established by the city with revenue generated from the local dog tax. Each family paid $1.00 ($27.27 in today’s currency) to use the library. Later, the Lincoln Library Association was formed, with annual dues of $1.00. The collection of books was first placed in a millinery (hat and clothing) store. The collection was moved periodically to other locations including a bookstore and a drugstore. At that time, stockholders actually owned the library.
In 1897 the books and property were turned over to the city and it became a public city library in 1899. In 1903, an election established a library tax for maintenance of the library. On February 13, 1913, voters approved a .4 mill levy for “officially” establishing a library. The city of Lincoln applied to the Carnegie Foundation and was offered $6,000 ($157,030.90 in today’s dollar) for the library fund with the stipulation that the city would provide $600 ($15,703.09) per year for maintenance. Voters passed this agreement 424- 166.
The Christian Science Church donated the site at Third and Court Streets for the construction of the new library, where it stands today. Plans for the structure were approved by the Carnegie Corporation, finalized, and bids were advertised in August of 1913. The contract was awarded to Wilson & Gilbert of Hoxie and Plainville for $5,770.00 ($151,011.39).The first library board was appointed in January of 1914.
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