by Sarah Runge & Rosalynne Scheinost
In York, Nebraska, a town of almost eight thousand residents, a staple of the community is the Kilgore Memorial Library. York’s library provides abundant and fruitful programs to an active community. Dedicated and passionate staff welcome visitors of all ages and from all walks-of-life with smiles and warm greetings.
2018 brought about drastic change within the community of York. Due to a severe budget deficit, the library lost significant financial funding. This brought about a burning passion and drive within the community to take action in effort to ensure the livelihood of this beloved library.
Initial efforts began prior to the finalization of the city budget. Individuals throughout the community voiced their concerns in letters to the editor of the local newspaper and to city council members. Social media also became a platform for creating awareness of the budget issues. Upon attending city council meetings, citizens addressed the mayor and city council members directly regarding the proposed budget cuts. As the individual efforts continued, invested community members became aware of one another and formed a network of collective wisdom and zeal for the library.
This cohort has adopted the name, Citizens for a Better York (CBY), and has been a proactive force within the community. CBY members have become regular attendees of the bimonthly city council meetings to show their investment within the community. Members have also maintained an informative and positive presence online as well as in person. #OurTownOurYork has become a familiar reference to the efforts of CBY within the community. At city functions and various programs, individuals can be found wearing bright yellow “I Love KML” shirts and handing out corresponding buttons.
On October 18, Citizens for a Better York held an event in honor of the cherished children’s librarian, Judy Andrews, whose position had been abruptly terminated as a result of the budget cuts. The open house for Mrs. Andrews, or Mrs. A as the children know her, was held at the York Area Children’s Museum. It was an opportunity for the many local families, whose lives she has touched over the years, to say thank you. Two of her favorite books were on a table for individuals to sign. Visiting children also brought with them homemade heartfelt cards. Families visited with Mrs. A, while enjoying the museum exhibits and refreshments. Despite the unfortunate reason for the open house, it was a very successful and enjoyable afternoon for both Mrs. Andrews and the families that attended.
Looking ahead, the intent of this group is to remain a positive and proactive influence within the city of York. The mission of Citizens for a Better York is to provide advocacy designed to enhance and support the quality of life for the community of York, Nebraska. The future of the Kilgore Memorial Library continues to be a focal point for the efforts of this group. Despite the changes that have occurred within the library, it still continues to successfully provide enriching programs and activities. The staff and environment of York’s library will enhance and grow the community for years to come.