Tekamah, Nebraska’s Tekamah Public Library Foundation’s Renovation Fund began as a means to raise funds to preserve the history of and renovate Tekamah’s circa 1916 Carnegie Library Building, and to build an architecturally compatible addition so that Mr. Carnegie’s original gift could serve the community for new generations and serve as an inspiration for the pursuit of knowledge as freedom. It’s also highly visited and they are bursting at the seams.
Tekamah Public Library Foundation had originally set their goal at $1 million to be raised over a two-and-a-half year period, with an initial goal of raising $87,500 to acquire the lot next to the library, raze the lot’s current structure, re-plat it out, and to engage an architecture firm to begin a study and create construction plans. Generating this sum would show the community that action is being taken to expand their library, which is a regional hub for community information.
Brandscapes (BRA) was brought in at the 6-month mark to help bring structure to their fundraising efforts. BRA evaluated the project and suggested that a $2 million goal would better serve this ambitious project. The Tekamah Library Foundation agreed. “Let There Be Light” was adopted for this campaign because it was Carnegie’s motto that he had inscribed over the entrance to his libraries.
Brandscapes began to break down the $2 million goal into manageable sums, which was introduced on DonateToTekamahLibrary.org. BRA created the site so the community could watch its fundraising progress and observe who in the area was donating to the Renovation Fund.
$100 buys one dedication on a “Brick of Light,” Community Pledges are for donations over $100, dedications on new furniture are $5,000 each, art installation and windows are $25,000 each, rooms and a/v equipment are $50,000 each. Bids to name the new addition begins at a $250,000 reserve. To help drive awareness, print ads and inserts were placed in the Burt County Plaindealer, Tekamah’s local newspaper.
Table tents were created and given to all the area restaurants and placed on every table in the area, including the local social hall that places them on the tables at every event – especially Tekamah-Herman High School reunions. Local businesses have table tents in their reception areas.
Updated high school alumnae contact information is gathered at their reunions for use in direct marketing and email campaigns. And a brief Power Point Presentation is given at these functions, and also upon request.
To reach the $87,500 needed to show the community there is activity on this project, the goals were set at: $50,000 in pledges, $7,500 from $100 per Brick of Light dedications, and $30,000 in local grants.
Tracking the Tekamah Library Foundation’s Renovation Fund’s progress in real-time on DonateToTekamahLibrary.org shows that $258,260 was raised, which was 295% above the initial goal of $87,500.
$100 per Brick of Light dedications totaled $19,300, a 256% above projections. Pledges and Donations totaled $108,960, which is 216% over initial goals. Grants from three local area foundations and trusts totaled their combined promise of $30,000. Brandscapes’s research discovered that Tekamah Public Library qualified for a $100,000 Nebraska State Tourism grant, which put the Grant’s goal over 433% of its initial goal.
Bids to name the new addition begin at a $250,000 reserve. To help drive awareness, print ads and inserts were placed in the Burt County Plaindealer, Tekamah’s local newspaper.
With 1,726 residents, the Tekamah, Nebraska, Public Library is profoundly accessed by all – plus by its surrounding villages. The original structure, built in 1917, has been well-maintained, but not updated. Tekamah will expand the library to include new public meeting spaces, and bookshelves for their growing collection. To do this, the Tekamah Public Library Foundation has undertaken a $2 million, 2-year fundraising effort to renovate and expand with an addition that will complement the original Carnegie library’s architecture.
Tekamah, Nebraska, is located in Burt County, one of Nebraska’s poorest counties. Even in this era of economic downturns, lower than expected grain prices, unpredictable weather, tight knit communities like Tekamah and Burt County have always come together for the betterment of their community. This first year’s success was due largely from those who come back for their school reunions, and to see family. DonateToTekamahLibrary.org’s traffic has steadily increased, and donations through the site have increased.
The Tekamah Public Library Foundation exists for the sole reason to keep their 1916 Carnegie Library building filled with the latest knowledge to share with their community. The Tekamah Public Library has a regional draw, and it’s the focal point of community gatherings. Defying trends that put the world’s information on a convenient laptop, this library is a beacon for those who seek knowledge as freedom. Those who used the Tekamah Public Library in their formative years still see it as an icon and a social tool for personal improvement. This library has prepared over six generations for life away from Tekamah. And when word went out that their library needed them, they gave over 295% of the initial need of $87,500. Burt County may be one of Nebraska’s poorest counties, but its people are richer with a wealth of knowledge kept current in their Tekamah Public Library.