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Clay Center and Harvard libraries named historic places

Harvard Public Library (top left) and the Clay Center Library have been named historic places....
Harvard Public Library (top left) and the Clay Center Library have been named historic places. The two were built more than a century ago as part of the Andrew Carnegie Library program.(History Nebraska)
Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 3:31 PM CDT
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CLAY CENTER, HARVARD, Neb. (KSNB) - Two libraries in south central Nebraska have been deemed worthy of preservation.

History Nebraska announces the Clay Center and Harvard Carnegie Libraries are now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Clay County was officially organized in 1871. Around this time, Andrew Carnegie initiated a library building program.

The library building program was responsible for constructing nearly 1,700 libraries in the United States. Nebraska was home to 52 Carnegie Libraries by the end of the Carnegie Library period in 1922.

Two of the most significant communities in the county, Clay Center and Harvard, each received and built a library by 1916.

Along with funds from the Carnegie initiative, the community worked to raise money by going door to door asking for donations to help get these facilities built.

Clay Center eventually received $12,000 for the project from all sources. A total of $7,000 went to building the library, and $5,000 went to building an adjacent gymnasium. The Clay Center Carnegie Library and Gymnasium hosted events for Clay Center and became a town center.

The Harvard Carnegie Library tells a similar story. At the time, there was not enough community interest or money. But in 1916, the Carnegie Library initiative offered an interesting opportunity. The community raised a total of $2,500, joining $6,000 from the Carnegie initiative, to successfully build the library.

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