Plans for new Omaha library locations continue moving forward

The Clark library downtown will be moving to 14th & Jones later this year.
Published: May. 20, 2022 at 5:28 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A lot of movement is in the Omaha area concerning the city’s libraries. It’s causing confusion about what libraries will be open and where.

Of the 12 libraries in Omaha, more than one-third are undergoing changes. The downtown library, W. Dale Clark and the long-time hub of the city’s library system, is moving to 14th and Jones.

Emily Getzschman is the marketing manager for Omaha Public Libraries. She says Clark will continue without interruption through the summer. She says this is the busiest time of year at the libraries and children’s programs will continue here, but some movement is underway.

“We’ve done a lot of work on inventorying, so we know what’s here and what needs to be going to its separate locations, but we haven’t actually started moving,” Getzschman said.

Work is moving forward at the 14th and Jones location and will replace Clark when finished.

“You almost have a clean slate. You can make it into what you want, and the bones of that building are beautiful.”

“We will have the downtown branch, so it will not be the main library downtown. What is being proposed is a central library at 72nd and Dodge. That is in the visionary stages right now, that isn’t a definite. That is something that is being explored. So, in essence, that would become the hub of the library system if that were to come to fruition.”

The new location at 72nd and Dodge is drawing a lot of attention from residents and city officials. Mayor Jean Stothert says the plan for a new library provides a great opportunity to improve the area, and a local nonprofit organization is joining in on the effort.

“Heritage Services is offering Omaha the incredible opportunity to add a learning destination to the revival of 72nd and Dodge that is already underway as a commercial, residential and leisure destination,” Stothert said. “The extensive public engagement process has provided the opportunity for everyone to be involved in planning this remarkable public space, at the true crossroads of our city. The Central Library design reflects the preferences of our community, it will be a one-of-a-kind Omaha Public Library to benefit patrons of all ages and interests.”

Do Space is in discussions with the library foundation and city about using its location for the 72nd Street library.

“The proposal is that they would be integrated into the library. We definitely look at that as an opportunity to upgrade our technology.”

Getzschman says another location enters into the mix to take on administrative services currently handled at the Clark location.

“Everything that happens here at W. Dale Clark is going to be moving to 84th and Frederick. There is a library administrative building that is going to be utilized for all of those functions, so while it won’t be a full-service branch, there we will be doing all of the backhouse work that needs to happen to make the library system function. There are also going to be all the genealogy and historical collection at that site that will be accessible to the public.”

So, there are a lot of moving parts in the location of the city’s libraries with a lot of decisions left to be made.

“This is all going to have a domino effect. So as one thing happens it will affect what happens next and we don’t know exactly how all of those pieces are going to land yet, but we’re excited for the opportunity.”

Getzschman says nothing has been decided concerning the Swanson Library at 90th and Dodge, so services will remain the same there.

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