116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The Cedar Rapids Public Library has been named the sole beneficiary of an estate that exceeds $1 million, left by a centenarian who once said that 'books have kind of been my life.”
Library Director Dara Schmidt said she was made aware of the bequest from the estate of Nadine E. Sandberg late last summer, but was not informed of the size of the gift until months later.
'I'll admit that I had tears in my eyes when I found out about the gift,” said Charity Tyler, executive director of the Cedar Rapids Public Library Foundation.
'The generosity of Mrs. Sandberg was really touching, and knowing that she did it …
because books have been her life and that she loved to read, it just gave me chills.
It's too early to determine how the library will use the money, Schmidt said, but it already is weighing community needs and seeing how it can best fill some of those gaps.
'We still don't know exactly what the answer to that is, but we know one of the pending issues for the library is that we don't have a permanent location on the west side,” Schmidt said.
'The Ladd Library is a rental space. The need there is not an immediate - our lease is good until 2027 - but creating a permanent space for the Ladd Library and our partners is definitely something we want to consider.”
The next step, Schmidt said, is to do a 'feasibility study,” she said.
'And we're already working with our with our partners and the city because we want to ensure that whatever vision we have for service on the west side meets their vision for service on the west side, while also meeting the needs of the community.” she said.
Over the years, the Ladd Library, at 3750 Williams Blvd. SW, has outgrown its role as a small branch of the library to become a community center that has partnered with various organizations to provide resources such as parenting classes, WIC (Women, Infants and Children) clinics, workforce and skill development, and food pantries.
'There is no arguing that the Ladd Library is not a viable and trusted community resource on the Westside,” Schmidt said. 'And even when we look at the last year at the derecho response, the library was where the Neighborhood Resource Center popped up because people already knew it was someplace safe they could go to get help.
'So, what it looks like right now, as a community resource is fantastic, but what it could look like in the future? That's something that is really exciting to consider.”
Nadine Elizabeth Sandberg grew up in Gilman, Iowa, where she attended school and excelled as a basketball player, according to a news release.
After college, Sandberg went to work for General Electric, where her career there included running GE's regional office during the time the company was helping build the Duane Arnold Energy Center.
She was married to Charles Sandberg, who died in 1996. The couple lived at Cottage Grove Place in Cedar Rapids later in life. They did not have children.
Nadine Sandberg, who once said, 'Books have kind of been my life,” died in May at Cottage Grove Place at age 102 - just two months before her 103rd birthday.
'It's really an incredible gift to the library and to the community,” Tyler said. 'And Mrs. Sandberg - like Marilyn Ladd and Ada VanVechten before her - likely had no real idea when she did it about the number of lives that this kind of gift will touch.”
Ladd, a former test technician at Rockwell Collins, left the library a gift of almost $750,000 at the time of her death in 2011.
At that time, Ladd's gift was the largest the library had ever received from a single individual, then-Director Bob Pasicznyuk told The Gazette.
Ada Van Vechten, mother of noted writer and photographer Carl Van Vechten, a Cedar Rapids native, was the leader of the City Federation of Ladies Literary Clubs. That group was instrumental in convincing city officials in 1896 to approve the opening of a public library.
'This gift continues this incredible history of these strong, independent women of Cedar Rapids, who have really, truly shaped their public library across time and that's really amazing,” Schmidt said.
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