The 25 members of the Women's Club undertook the establishment of a public library for the citizens of Alliance, Nebraska in 1909. The first library was organized a short time later with 837 volumes placed in book cases loaned by local merchant George Darling and housed in a basement room of the Syndicate building at 323 Box Butte Avenue. Rent, including heat, light and janitor service, was $10 per month and the women of the Club took turns acting as librarian.
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A Library Board was formed in the months following. The first recorded meeting was held December 31, 1909, in the Library room when the Women's Club formally turned over the management of the library to the Board. The Constitution and By-laws of the Public Library of the City of Alliance, Nebraska were adopted by the Library Board on January 5, 1910.
In March, 1910, the second site for a new building at 4th and Laramie was purchased for $2,500 with funds solicited from the community and from the sale by the Library Board of a cottage, garage and coal house located on the property. Application was made to the Carnegie Foundation for funds to build a library and building began in 1911 upon approval of the funding. The City assumed full management upon completion of the building.
The Library Board contracted to finish the basement in 1920. It was used as a polling place for the city and rented out for local clubs’ meetings and young people's parties. During the 1930's, a book bindery operated there. The basement was redone in 1938 by WPA workers. The west wing was added in 1942, using $5,000 in funds received from Dr. Frank M. Knight upon his death in 1940. Other improvements were added throughout the building's 65-year history as the Alliance Public Library.
The Slagle Building, located at 524 Box Butte Avenue, was deeded to the City of Alliance for use as a library by doctors’ widows Mrs. Ruth Burnham and Mrs. Helen Johnston and by Dr. and Mrs. Joseph Kuncl, on February 14, 1977. After the $175,000 bond issue passed by a large margin on May 9, 1978, interior rooms were demolished in preparation for the extensive remodeling required to make the building usable as a library. The newly renovated library opened its doors to the public in 1980 in its third location, featuring a wheel chair entrance and lift, handicapped parking and public bathrooms.
The Alliance Learning Center is a result of citizens of the City of Alliance, Nebraska coming together to pursue a common goal. The community realized the need for a larger library and more meeting rooms in the last decade of the Twentieth Century. Western Nebraska Community College and Chadron State College also conducted studies that showed Box Butte County citizens had been under-served for many years. In 1995, the citizens of Alliance voted to install a one cent sales tax, to expire in five years. Funds raised from this tax were to be used for the building of a new public library/learning center, a new ladder fire truck, street improvements, and tax relief at the city level. The Alliance City Council broke ground for the building on April 2, 1997, and the project was completed in 1998 at a cost of $4.8 million. Sales tax monies, a grant, and donations provided funds for the project.
The creation of the Center involved the cooperative efforts of a municipality, school district, hospital, a community college, and a state college. Over 56 citizens served on planning committees, with more than 30 employees from the different organizations providing technical expertise, and over 100 citizens helping move the library.
In January, 1999, the Alliance Public Library was moved to its fourth location in the newly constructed Alliance Learning Center at 1750 Sweetwater Avenue. The new library facility is handicapped accessible on the main floor and has an elevator to the lower level. The expectations of library patrons have changed over the library's ninety year history. While the library of the early 1900s provided books and a quiet place to study, today's library might be better termed a media center, a place where all the types of media the public desires can be found.
The main floor space contains comfortable reading and study areas, Technology Center, Heritage Room, and community meeting rooms. The Technology Center features Internet access, work processing programs, and CD ROM stations with software to access reference information. A microfiche reader, a microfilm reader/printer, and county newspapers dating from 1895 on microfilm are available in the Heritage Room which also contains local books by Nebraska authors, rare volumes, Northwest Genealogy Society materials, and general research materials like the Passenger and Immigration Indexes.
A wide selection of adult fiction and classified books, juvenile fiction and classified books, easy fiction, reference books, and books on tape are available at the Alliance Public Library. Special sections in the library's collection of 43,000 books include large print, Nebraska, holidays, career and education information, and jigsaw puzzles. Computerized search stations allow patrons to access the library materials, find their location, and determine if they are available for checkout. Over 100 periodicals and eleven newspapers are available in the attractive reading area at the front of the library. Computerized search and checkout stations have enabled the library to keep better track of each of its materials and to serve patrons more efficiently
The Alliance Public Library is proud to offer the citizens of Alliance and the surrounding area the latest in services and materials to fulfill the needs of every age group. With the support of the Alliance Public Library Board of Directors and an active Friends of the Library organization, the library staff strives to deliver services and materials in a manner to benefit all library users.