Hastings celebrates 115 years of the public library

HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - Hastings celebrated a major milestone for their public library Friday and it reaches its 115th anniversary since it was dedicated. A library in a community can bring people from all walks of life to share a love of learning and storytelling. That is what the Hastings Public Library strives to preserve as it moves into the future.

The Hastings Public Library has a long history of how it has grown with the community it serves and the community is looking back on its 115 years. (KSNB)

It all started with a grant from Andrew Carnegie to create a library available to everyone. So not only the rich could be the ones informed.

“The idea is that everyone can be informed, everyone can make decisions, everyone can be an informed voter,” Director Amy Hafer said.

In 1904, the library was born with President Teddy Roosevelt being the one to break ground for the future of Hastings. It quickly became a place for people to learn about history and share stories of wonder and imagination. The library has always had a focus on children.

“Reading together as a family is the best bonding experience. Learning to choose your own books, learning what path you'll take on your adventure of learning and reading,” Hafer said.

The original library unfortunately did not stand the test of time and termites so it had to be torn down in the 1960's. But a new one was placed in the same spot and people who grew up in Hastings remember it fondly.

“It was always a favorite spot to go because we spent a lot of time reading. We did not have a television when I was growing up my first five years so we often went to the library,” HPL Foundation Member Lynette Kreiger said.

The library was then renovated in 2015 to give it the modern look it has now. There is still an emphasis on learning and a chance for children to experience reading in a new way. It keeps up with modern advancements and ways to keep bringing the 400 daily patrons coming through the doors.

“A lot of it stays the same though. It's a constant in our community. It's always something people always recognize and it's fun when people come back to town after they've left for a while,” Hafer said. “They come home to Hastings and they say it's the library I know and love.”

The library is excited to keep going into the future with a building that is made to last. They have new children's programs coming to keep serving the public and promoting education through reading.