The little town of Dawson, Nebraska
has taken some real hits in these changing times but there is one
institution that continues with vigor and good health. Not many
small towns boast a library! The John G. Smith Memorial Library
opens its doors every Tuesday morning for the day and is busy with
the hum of people checking out books, returning books and magazines
and videos they have enjoyed that week.
Carol Kean, local retired elementary teacher, is the
lady that makes it work along with a dedicated and supportive board
and community. The library does receive a small amount from the
city budget, which mostly pays for the utilities. Carol tells of
a lady passing thru recently who recognized the library sign, stopped
and came in about closing time, ask a few questions and wrote a
$500 check to support expenses. No one has seen her since. Also
many interested persons in the community annually donate to keep
the doors open and the budget paid.
Dawson John G. Smith Memorial Library, still open
After School students crowd around Carol Kean, Librarian
Story hour begins at 9:00am and around the little table gather
from 6 to a dozen youngsters listening to a story and having some
treats that loving moms have prepared. After school the rush is
on as students of all ages raid the library for books, which they
have not read, or come in to dodge the snowballs and chat with Carol.
The library has a storied history. Mrs. Arta Draper Parriott lead
a committee of interested people in the community and formed plans
and raised donations for the first library building. She was librarian
from 1944 - 1959. The Dawson Herald Newspaper reported December
16, 1943 that with cash donations, some good used books, and new
ones ordered, "that this project is launched with the belief
that the community at large will respond with the generosity and
enthusiasm already shown by those to whom it has been mentioned".
The notice was signed by Mrs. John L. Parriott, Mrs. Dan J. Riley,
and Carl Baltensperger.
Many of the well-read books and magazines are still available
to be checked out and enjoyed. The Nebraska City Library sends down
a box of "large print" books upon request, which offers
some new reading for the regular patrons. Also books of special
interest can be obtained from the State Library Commission. In browsing
thru the offerings one can find nearly complete collections of famous
authors of westerns and fiction. The old Dewey Decimal System is
still used, as the library does not have a computer to update a
new system of recording.
People in the community donate books occasionally and Carol says,
"I could use some help in cataloging them as I just don't have
time". This little piece of Americana is worth noting in this
day of fast changing society. The next time you are driving down
the long hill on main street Dawson
slow down and take a look
in the ole John G. Smith Library and if it is Tuesday, sit in on
story hour or say hello to a dedicated lady whose smile welcomes
you and makes you want to check out one of her books and return
often. And if you are lucky grab a hand full of her newly popped
corn and a cup of coffee and just chat.
Rows of books ready to be read