1877 Society

The 1877 Society is a group of library enthusiasts and advocates in their twenties and thirties who support the Omaha Public Library Foundation. The Omaha Public Library Foundation raises funds and advocates for Omaha Public Library, its programs, patrons, services, and staff.

Membership to the 1877 Society is an annual $100 donation to the Omaha Public Library Foundation. Membership provides invitations to exclusive library events not open to the general public: private tours of the library's special collections, library volunteer opportunities, discounts to local businesses, and more.

Our goal is two-fold: to increase younger donors to the Omaha Public Library Foundation, and to generate awareness of and create advocates for Omaha Public Library.

Simply put, we want to connect Omaha's best and brightest young professionals through a shared love of Omaha Public Library. 

The 1877 Society Steering Committee was formed in the summer of 2014. Our first event was December 4, 2014, at W. Dale Clark Main Library.

To join or for more information, send an email to 1877society@omahalibrary.org or call (402) 444-4589. Follow the 1877 Society on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

"Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" Picked for October 20 Library Fundraiser at Aksarben Cinema

The 1877 Society will host “Animus: Film vs. Book” at Aksarben Cinema on Thursday, October 20. 

This second annual fundraiser will screen the 1998 film "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” directed by Terry Gilliam and starring Johnny Depp.

Attendees are encouraged to read the book, written by Hunter S. Thompson and first published in 1971, prior to the October 20 fundraiser.

A spirited audience discussion will follow the movie, on which version of the story was better. This year's panelists include Karen Pietsch of Omaha Public Library and Ryan Syrek of The Reader. Local comedian Cameron Logsdon returns as emcee.

“Animus” proceeds will benefit Omaha Public Library adult literacy, programs, and services this year.

Visit http://www.aksarbencinema.com/showtimes.html to purchase tickets, selecting Thursday, October 20, 2016 from the drop down menu. 

Tickets are $25 for 1877 Society members, and $35 for the general public. Admission includes appetizers, popcorn, cocktails, and the movie ticket.

Questions? Send an email to 1877society@omahalibrary.org or call (402) 444-4589.

Prose, Poetry Sought for 2016 Writing Contest 

The 1877 Society invites Omaha-area writers in their forties and younger to submit unpublished prose and poetry to the second annual 1877 Society Writing Contest.

Personal essays and short stories under 5,000 words may be submitted in the prose category, double-spaced with standard margins. One single-spaced poem of under three pages may be submitted in the poetry category. Entrants may submit one entry in both categories if they so choose.

The application process has closed.

The winners of this year's writing contest will be announced at the Wednesday, October 5, Pageturners Literary Pub Quiz.

The pub quiz is held on the first Wednesday of every month and features twenty questions about books, writers, and literary culture. Teams are invited to compete for prizes.

The games commence at 8 p.m. at Pageturners Lounge, 5004 Dodge Street. The writing contest winners will be announced at 9 p.m.

The winning poem and prose entry will each receive a $500 cash prize. A third, $250 prize will be awarded to the best work (either poetry or prose). The winning works will also be featured in Omaha Public Library's digital collection. 

All winners will be selected by the awards committee.

The 2016 awards committee is:

Theodore Wheeler, author of the short story collection Bad Faith (July 2016) and the forthcoming novel Kings of Broken Things (August 2017).

Liz Kay, author of the novel Monsters: a Love Story (June 2016) and a founding editor of Spark Wheel Press and burntdistrict poetry journal.

Andrew Hilleman, author of the forthcoming novel World, Chase Me Down (January 2017).

For more information, contact Theodore Wheeler (tedwheeler@gmail.com) or call the Omaha Public Library Foundation (402-444-4589).

2015 Contest Winners

On September 15, 2015, the 1877 Society awarded prizes to the three winners of our inaugural writing contest. Local writers submitted nearly forty works.

"Violate the Leaves," a short story by Theodore Wheeler, won for Best Short Story. Wheeler received a $500 prize. Wheeler's story digs into the psyche of a military family through the eyes of a child whose mother is deployed. He is left to experience life with his father; it's one much more grown-up than he's used to.

"Bears Like Spectators," a personal essay by Kristine Mahler, won for Best Personal Essay. Mahler received a $500 prize. The story of a college woman coming-of-age is speckled with uncomfortable parties, unfamiliar roommates and clumsy relationships, all told in a voice both familiar and innocent.

"The Mean Ink," a short story by Benjamin Simon, won the 1877 Society Members Choice Award. Simon received a $250 prize. Simon tells the story of Scissor, an employee at an ink factory whose job -- and life -- take a dark turn, leaving the reader to wonder what happens next. Borrow "The Mean Ink" from Omaha Public Library.

The 2015 contest was chaired by Sarah Baker Hansen, food critic at the Omaha World-Herald. Joining the award committee were local authors Timothy Schaffert and Rebecca Rotert.

Team Book is Winner at "Animus: Film vs. Book"

In 2015, the 1877 Society launched an annual Omaha Public Library fundraiser, titled “Animus: Book vs. Film,” at Aksarben Cinema.

About 65 attendees gathered October 29 for a lively film and book comparison. Up for debate was Stephen King’s 1977 best-selling novel The Shining, versus the 1980 film of the same name directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Jack Nicholson.

The night began with a cocktail and appetizer reception at 5 p.m., followed by a screening of the movie at 6 p.m. and a passionate and spirited panel discussion.

Enthusiastic readers and self-proclaimed film critics constructively discussed whether the book is superior to the film (or vice versa). Attendees were encouraged to first read The Shining prior to watching the film at Aksarben Cinema.

Panelists (in photo below) included Julie Humphrey of Omaha Public Library, speaking in support of the book; and Ryan Syrek, a film critic with The Reader, speaking in support of the film. Moderating the panel and audience discussion was Cameron Logsdon, a local slam poet and standup comedian, who also teaches for the University of Nebraska at Omaha School of Communication.

“Stanley Kubrick is a god,” Syrek said at the event. “King may be one of the more popular novelists, but Stanley Kubrick is widely considered the greatest filmmaker to ever live. If King is fun pop music, Kubrick is an opera.”

Syrek added: “Although it’s not seen as an intelligent or sophisticated position, I think movies are better than books. Yep, I said it. The fact is, when it comes to art, film leverages more mediums: visual, written, and sound. And while the films we create in our minds from books are seen as better by most, that’s entirely theoretical and reliant on one’s own level of creativity. The emphasis is on the reader, not the artist. When I watch ‘The Shining,’ I’m watching Stanley Kubrick’s horror movie, not the horror I’m creating for myself when reading King’s book.”

Humphrey was prepared to counter Syrek’s arguments.

“Wow, does the book handle the characters so much better,” Humphrey said during “Animus.” “The characters are so much deeper and more engaging in the written world. I am still deciding who to attribute the blame for the movie to: Kubrick, the casting director, or the actors themselves. I spend most of the movie actually actively wishing dopey-Wendy would just hurry up and die, and Jack doesn’t have far to go to be crazy since he starts out as mentally unstable.”

Humphrey added: “If Kubrick truly wanted us to believe that the true monsters are in us, and everyday situations like being lost in a hedge maze with a crazy person are scary enough, then why even try to include supernatural elements? Kubrick should have been able to pull off a movie about how scary people are, without the cheesy blood waterfall from the elevator, or the supposed ghosts of Grady’s girls, or the almost comical ending of icicle-Jack.”

Following comments from the audience and closing arguments from Syrek and Humphrey, a vote was taken. Team Book won for 2015, although many attendees voted in favor of the film.

Event proceeds were donated to Omaha Public Library. Event sponsors were Aksarben Cinema and Oxide Design


1877 Society Steering Committee

Sarah Baker Hansen
Drew Davies
Shonna Dorsey
Tulani Grundy Meadows
Sarah Hanify
Katie Kemerling
Jessica McKay
Autumn Pruitt
Kenley D. Sturdivant-Wilson
Jesse A. Sullivan