Sterling Public Library forming non-profit, working towards accreditation

STERLING, NE — In the small village of Sterling, there’s a place anyone can go to find their happy place.

The welcoming feeling is what drew Becky Barney to the Sterling Public Library for years. Now, she’s rounding out her first year as librarian.

“You can come here and just be you and feel and find a sense of community here,” Barney said.

Barney is looking to enhance the small town library by becoming accredited through the Nebraska Library Commission. Meeting the state’s high standards would be a point of pride for the community but it would also expand access to grants, technology and an inter-library loan program.

“We have a very small space here, so it would be amazing to be able to use other people’s spaces, borrow their books for my patrons,” Barney said.

The library doesn’t offer e-books now, but Barney says that would be more affordable if accredited.

“And that is another way to kind of be able to go, ‘hey we have a small space, but we have a huge collection,’” Barney said.

To support the library over the long-term, Barney is working to form a Friends of the Library non-profit. Those efforts are now partly funded through the Nebraska Community Foundation, which gave the library a grant this week. Barney plans to have the non-profit established this year and earn accreditation as soon as possible.

“I love this community," Barney said. "I really feel strongly about how important a library is in a community, so it would just be amazing (to see the library enhanced).”

Barney says she already has 16 people pledging to contribute to the Friends of the Library non-profit. Forming the non-profit gives the library points on its application to become accredited.