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 TwitterInstagram, and Facebook.

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


'Touch' Takes Top Prize at 2016 Writing Contest

On October 5, 2016, 1877 Society awarded prizes to the three winners of the second annual writing contest. Local writers submitted nearly forty works.

"Touch," an essay by Liz Huett, won in the prose category. Huett received a $500 prize for her essay about the anxiety of a burgeoning obsessive-compulsive disorder as an elementary school student, and how art and the attention of a high school crush later helped to mitigate the struggle.

Kassandra Montag won in the poetry category for "On Confessing My Symptoms to my Doctor." Montag received a $500 prize for a poem that combines descriptions of the natural world with ruminations on mortality and the role of caregivers.

"Shelf Life," a poem by Maranda Loughlin, won the 1877 Judges Choice Award. Loughlin received a $250 prize for a narrative poem about a young woman's recollections of her grandmother, a woman who refused to believe in God and was shunned by her community.

Nicole Koneck-Wilwerding (for her story "Break Out") and Felicity White (for her poem "Winter Afghans and Handkerchief Scarves") received honorable mention by the judges.

The 2016 judges panel was comprised of novelists Theodore Wheeler, Liz Kay, and Andrew Hilleman.

1877 Society Steering Committee

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