Pawnee City’s (pop. 878) public library turned 100 years old in 2007. The library was outdated and no longer served Pawnee City’s needs. After meeting with consultants, the community concluded the best option was to build a new library. While determining funding for the project, the city conducted a Needs Identification Survey and applied for a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to fund a portion of the new public library. In July 2009, Governor Dave Heineman and the Department of Economic Development (DED) awarded $350,000 in CDBG funding to Pawnee City for their new public library. Other matching funding sources for the project included USDA-Rural Development, Pawnee City Library Foundation, Friends of the Library, and many donations from the community.
This project was a true community effort. The City Council formed the Pawnee City Public Library Building Committee to gather information and research. The Pawnee City Library Foundation and The Friends of the Library held numerous fundraising events.
The new 7,200 square feet Pawnee City Public Library was recently completed. The CDBG funding helped make this project attainable for such a small community. The library benefits 1,033 persons with 540 being low-to-moderate income residents. The Pawnee City area especially benefits from the updated handicap accessibility, internet access for low-income families and a high-tech computer lab. The library also offers computer skills classes to residents and a meeting room for organizations.
The CDBG funding through DED was critical to Pawnee City’s ability to provide amenities that enrich the lives of its citizens and attract economic development. The City of Pawnee City is now looking at applying for a Public Works CDBG for street improvements.
Duane Westing, Pawnee City Mayor, reflected on the meaning of CDBG funding for his community. “Our new library has been a dream come true for our community and we so appreciate the CDBG funds, because without them it would not have happened. The library is like a diamond in our little town to give hope and a wealth of resources and opportunities for people in our whole area. It was truly a joint effort of so many people and the folks working with CDBG joined right in for what was a true team effort,” he said.