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Omaha libraries hope to attract more visitors with digital options

Published: Jan. 26, 2021 at 10:11 AM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - It would be a good day to stay home and curl up with a good book. Officials at the Omaha Public Libraries say neither the weather nor the pandemic should stop library members from checking out a good book to read.

In-person traffic has slowed at Omaha Public Libraries.

“We used to have a lot of people come in and use us as space just to sit and relax and enjoy that magazine or newspaper but with our current directive health measures we’re encouraging that not to happen right now and you can see we’ve removed a lot of furniture from a lot of our spaces for that reason,” said Rachel Steiner, the Omaha Public Library Assistant Director.

In 2019, more than 1.6 million people walked in one of Omaha’s 12 libraries.

COVID-19 forced Omaha libraries to shut down from March until September of 2020 and all 12 libraries were not open until November, dropping 2020 in-person visits to under half a million.

But people are still checking out books. More people are downloading electronic books to their devices.

“It was a huge benefit of when we had to close our doors as we could say to people you might not be able to come today to get a book but you can go on our website and download the numerous and I mean numerous items that we have and it’s not only e-books, we also have audiobooks,” said Steiner.

Officials are preparing for people to return to the libraries. They need to buy more books, audio materials, and digital resources and get them out on the shelves for hundreds of thousands of people to enjoy.

A resolution is before The Omaha City Council to approve around two million dollars for the city’s 12 libraries to buy new materials and books.

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