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Geneva Library excels; part of leadership grant

Recently, Neb. Governor Pete Ricketts announced that 18 Nebraska libraries will be the initial local participants in Nebraska’s Library Innovation Studios: Transforming Rural Communities project to create library makerspaces. The Nebraska Library Commission was recently awarded a National Leadership Grant of $530,732 by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for this partnership project with the University of Nebraska Lincoln (UNL), Nebraska Innovation Studio, Nebraska Extension, Regional Library Systems, and local public libraries.  The Geneva Public Library was one of these initial libraries chosen.
“This partnership demonstrates how our Nebraska communities can use technology and education to empower community residents to create, learn, and invent,” Ricketts said. “By expanding the skills of the workforce in our communities, supporting entrepreneurs, and encouraging lifelong learning, this partnership reinforces our vibrant business climate and supports community development.”
The project uses Library Innovation Studios makerspaces hosted by public libraries to support community engagement and participatory learning experiences by providing access to technology and innovative learning tools not readily accessible locally. This is expected to stimulate creativity, innovation, and the exchange of ideas to facilitate entrepreneurship, skills development, and local economic development.
The Nebraska Innovation Studio—the UNL makerspace—is the creative and collaborative hub of UNL’s Nebraska Innovation Campus, where makers and builders team up to conceptualize, prototype, and iterate projects that solve problems and influence change. The primary focus is on creativity, interdisciplinary collaboration, entrepreneurship, and education.
Nebraska Extension is one of three components of UNL’s land-grant mission. It is a dynamic educational organization that puts research to work in local communities, businesses, and individuals’ lives. Extension professionals are recognized for subject matter competence, excellent teaching skills, and community presence. They live and work in Nebraska communities across the state and engage with local and state partners in educational program delivery to address critical issues identified by constituents.
“Nebraska’s public libraries are the natural gathering points for people to come together to share materials, knowledge, and experiences,” said Nebraska Library Commission Director Rod Wagner. “Whether the materials and tools are high tech or low tech, digital or analog, art or science, the focus is to create, invent, tinker, explore, and discover using the tools, materials, and knowledge available. Libraries have always been dedicated to community partnership, collaboration, and the free exchange of ideas—makerspaces are the next step in that progression.”
“Geneva Public Library is pleased to host the Library Innovation Studio and excited to collaborate with Nebraska Extension, FCDC, FC Public Schools and the City of Geneva,” said Sarah Johnson, Geneva Public Library Director.  “If your business or organization is interested in joining this collaboration, please do not hesitate to contact the library to learn more.”
The Library Innovation Studio is scheduled to arrive in the Geneva Public Library the week of January 21, 2019, and be available through mid-June, 2019.  In the meantime, community residents are encouraged to drop into the library to learn about what equipment will be available to use, volunteer to serve on the Community Action Team or as a trainer/mentor, see how your community group could access the equipment, and invite library staff to visit your group or organization for more information.
At a recent Geneva City Council meeting, Johnson noted how well the local library did in its recent accreditation report.  She said the library is only two points away from making 250 points, which represents a significant milestone. She also noted the library was extremely busy this summer.
“I’m very proud of our blueprint for our summer program,” said Johnson at a recent city council meeting.  “It was hugely popular.
Johnson also told the city council that nearly 120 individuals attended the library’s Raptor Recovery program.  The Geneva Public Library was also a hub for the recent Solar Eclipse, Johnson said.  The library was a buzz of activity for the entire week and library staff handed out nearly 600 glasses for the event, she said.