Kearney Public Library

Kearney has always loved citizen involvement, and the people of Kearney were interested in having a library almost from the outset.

Kearney Public Library opened in September 1890 by purchasing a collection of books from William Skinner, News Editor of the Kearney Hub, who had opened a private library in 1889 called the Kearney Library. Through the years, Kearney Public Library has evolved into one of the area’s greatest resources and has benefitted innumerable people, blurring the line between library and community center.

One of the first goals of the library is to connect books to readers, and a KPL library card is a golden ticket to a treasure chest of information. Kearney Public Library has a collection of over 154,000 books, audio, and video items and an annual circulation of close to half a million. In addition to its on-site materials, the digital library is limitless, exploding with a growing collection of newspapers, magazines, audio titles, eBooks, films, and online learning resources one can read in a browser, download to a mobile device, or stream online.

One very special place in the library that has become a center for creativity is Makerspace, which opened in 2019. Makerspace is where people can come to think creatively and design and manufacture do-it-yourself projects using technology. Using tools that would normally be inaccessible or unaffordable such as a 3D Printer, AccuQuilt Machine, Cricut Maker, Die Cutting Machine, and Glowforge, people can learn, design, and invent anything they can imagine.

Furthermore, Kearney Public Library’s dedication to nurturing creativity manifests itself in the myriad of programs and events they offer. Its four large meeting rooms are always busy, welcoming participants to events sponsored by the library or hosted by other community organizations. Kearney Public Library’s numerous programs are for all ages. Dozens of youth, teen, and adult offerings such as 100 Great Books, Writer’s Block, Open Book Club, and Studio KPL stimulate creative thought and build a community of learners. Especially popular is the Summer Reading Challenge. Open to all ages, readers have an opportunity to win prizes by engaging in activities and reading books of their choice while completing an imaginative Readopoly Challenge sheet provided by the library.

Annual events offered by Kearney Public Library also inspire creativity by bringing professionals from across the nation to share their talents with the entire Kearney community. Every fall One Author Kearney showcases best selling writers who not only give writing workshops to aspiring writers, but also share an evening of conversation and readings with an eager audience at the World Theater. Equally popular is the Kearney Area Storytelling Festival, a multi-day event where national storytellers wow their audiences with workshops and public performances at schools, churches, and senior centers throughout the Kearney area.

KPL’s cementing its role as a community leader is perhaps best illustrated in its collaborative efforts with others. In 2023, the Kearney Public Library and Prairie Arts Brothers, with support from Nebraska Cultural Endowment, Humanities Nebraska, and the Nebraska Arts Council created a tremendous celebration for National Poetry Month, inviting numerous well-known poets from across the state to give workshops and read poetry, culminating with a presentation of “City of Poets,” a poem composed by Nebraska State Poet, Matt Mason, using verses, lines, and ideas submitted by Kearney community members.

One of the library’s most popular events which started in 2016 is the result of its collaboration with the UNK History Department called the Brown Bag History Series, where community members are invited to bring their own lunch and learn from a variety of history scholars on varied topics of cultural, historical, or scientific interest.

Another collaborative venture has been hosting student art shows during Student Art Month. This showcase features the creativity that takes place in school classrooms daily and enables students and their families to share their talents in a public setting while drawing in people who may not normally frequent the library. This brings a new light on the library in the community, and viewers always express awe at the creative talent and skill level displayed.

More and more community members feel like Kearney Public Library is a place to go for learning, fellowship, and inspiration. Central Nebraska Senior College, local book clubs, quilting and sewing groups, local and state agencies, and home school families all use KPL as the space and place they can rely on. Broc Anderson, the community engagement director for Buffalo County Historical Society at the Trails and Rails Museum in Kearney expressed the feelings of everyone in the Kearney area when he said, “I want to personally thank you for all your efforts…with you folks at the helm at KPL, we are truly blessed to have such a community oriented library. Thanks again a million times over!”

People: William Skinner Categories: Art, Education, Poetry, Writers