1877 Society

Omaha-based 1877 Society is a group of library enthusiasts and advocates in their twenties, thirties, and forties 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 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 1877 Society on Instagram and Facebook.

2017 Writing Contest Winners Announced

For the third consecutive year, 1877 Society invited Omaha-area writers in their forties and younger to submit unpublished prose and poetry for its annual writing contest.

Personal essays and short stories under 5,000 words were submitted in the prose category, double-spaced with standard margins. Writers also submitted one single-spaced poems of under three pages in the poetry category. Entrants were permitted to submit in both categories if they so choose.

The winning poem and prose entry each received a $500 cash prize. A third, $250 prize was awarded to the best work (either poetry or prose) as selected by the 2017 judges panel.

The following three winners were announced Wednesday, October 4, during the monthly Literary Pub Quiz at Pageturners Lounge.

Prose: "Milkweed Elegy" (personal essay) by Patrick Mainelli
Poetry: "Elegy for J" by S.R. Aichinger
Judge's Choice Award: "Any Time You Like" (short story) by Bryant Holmes

Omaha World-Herald columnist Erin Grace was chair of this year's writing contest. The 2017 judges panel also included:

For questions or more information, contact Grace (erin.grace@owh.com) or Wendy Townley of the Omaha Public Library Foundation (wtownley@omahalibrary.org or 402-444-4589).

Prose: "Milkweed Elegy" (personal essay) by Patrick Mainelli
Poetry: "Elegy for J" by S.R. Aichinger
Judge's Choice Award: "Any Time You Like" (short story) by Bryant Holmes

Prose: "Touch" by Liz Huett
Poetry: "On Confessing My Symptoms to my Doctor" by Kassandra Montag
Judges Choice Award: "Shelf Life" by Maranda Loughlin (poetry)
Honorable Mentions: "Break Out" by Nicole Koneck-Wilwerding (prose); "A Robbery" by Kassandra Montag (prose); and "Winter Afghans and Handkerchief Scarves" by Felicity White (poetry)

Short Story: "Violate the Leaves" by Theodore Wheeler
Personal Essay: "Bears Like Spectators" by Kristine Mahler
Members Choice Award: "The Mean Ink" by Benjamin Simon (short story)

1877 Society will host “Animus: Film vs. Book” at Aksarben Cinema on Thursday, October 19.

The third annual fundraiser will screen the 1961 film "Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” directed by Blake Edwards and starring Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard.

Attendees are encouraged to read the novella, written by Truman Capote and first published in 1958, prior to the October 19 fundraiser. 

A spirited audience discussion will follow the movie, on which version of the story was better.

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

"Animus: Film vs. Book" 
Thursday, October 19 at Aksarben Cinema
5 p.m. reception, featuring cocktails and appetizers
6 p.m. screening
8 p.m. panel discussion

$25 for 1877 Society members
$35 for the general public
Admission includes appetizers, popcorn, cocktails, and your movie ticket.
Visit http://aksarbencinema.com/showtimes.html and select "October 19" from the drop-down menu.

In 2015, the 1877 Society launched “Animus.” Nearly seventy attendees gathered at Aksarben Cinema 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.

Last year’s “Animus” selection was Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Team Book Tops at Second Annual 'Animus' Fundraiser

1877 Society hosted its second annual fundraiser, “Animus: Film vs. Book,” October 20, 2016, at Aksarben Cinema.

About 60 attendees gathered for a lively film and book comparison. Up for debate was Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson versus the 1998 film of the same name, which stars Johnny Depp.

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 Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas prior to watching the film at Aksarben Cinema.

Panelists included Karen Pietsch 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.

Omaha writer Kevin Simonson joined the discussion, as well. Simonson has written extensively about Thompson and interviewed him several times before his death in 2005.

“What (director) Terry Gilliam did was less a direct adaptation and more a satire of the ‘buddy road trip’ film genre,” Syrek said at the event. “The film also served less of an enthusiastic endorsement of Thompson’s ideas about drug culture and more of a critique of them. It was if Gilliam was saying, more than two decades later, that what Thompson thought was brilliant and transgressive was actually pretty dumb and worthless.”

Syrek added: “When it comes to showing the effects of drug use, the book requires readers to draw upon their own experiences or lack thereof, but a movie can use so many different elements to show what the experience of ‘tripping’ feels like.”

Pietsch was prepared to counter Syrek’s arguments.

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and a good movie adaptation can be a compliment, a heartfelt homage to the artist that came before,” she said. “Some adaptations are works of art in their own right – we think of ‘The Godfather,’ ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ or the Coen brothers’ ‘True Grit’ – while others are more by the book. ‘Fear and Loathing’ is a by-the-book version and it fails to capture much of the rambunctious spirit, raunchiness, and deadpan humor even though much of the script is quotes from the book.”

Pietsch added: “Terry Gilliam’s big oversight when he decided to create a copycat adaptation was that he chose to focus on style over substance. He spent a lot of money creating beautiful-looking and incredibly realistic drug sequences and forgot to give the movie a beating heart. It presents no new ideas or perspectives, and therefore I can’t consider it a work of art as I can with Thompson’s book.”

Following comments from the audience and closing arguments from Syrek and Pietsch, a vote was taken. Team Book won (for the second consecutive year), although some attendees voted in favor of the film.

Proceeds were donated to Omaha Public Library adult literacy, programs, and services. Event sponsors were Aksarben Cinema and Oxide Design


1877 Society Steering Committee

Sarah Baker Hansen
Shonna Dorsey
Erin Duerr
Tulani Grundy Meadows
Sarah Hanify
Katie Kemerling
Quentin Leuninghoener
Jessica McKay
Autumn Pruitt
Jesse A. Sullivan