Omaha City Council, developers committed to new central library location

Tuesday afternoon, the city explained why it’s committing $20 million to the project
Plans to build a new central library at 72nd and Dodge will be moving forward.
Published: Jul. 19, 2022 at 5:28 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Plans to build a new central library at 72nd and Dodge will be moving forward -- from concept to something more tangible.

Up to now, the public debates have been heated but not Tuesday afternoon.

Only two people spoke in opposition whereas in the past the line would go out of council chambers.

That’s because so many people have been frustrated with the process and lack of transparency, believing decisions were made by city leaders before ever asking what the public thought when it came to demolishing the downtown library and moving it a few blocks away to make way for the new Mutual of Omaha headquarters.

Tuesday afternoon, the city explained why it’s committing $20 million to the project. The renderings are assembled by HDR including a state-of-the-art automation system for distribution.

Some of the planners visited some of the most innovative libraries in the world to get ideas for this model. The central library branch would be built beginning as early as next summer at the site of Do Space at 72nd and Dodge.

Nonprofit Heritage Omaha expects to raise another $120 million to build it. Some council members wondered why 72nd and Dodge and not downtown is a good place for the central library.

“The one thing we know about 72nd and Dodge is that if you want to get a point across or celebrate something, for some reason or another this site has a strange hold on us and we tend to show up there,” said Tom Trenalone of HDR.

“I believe this library is what the city needs. You bring together technology, access, and technology to the community, the programming that’s there will be for the entire community,” said Janette Taylor of Omaha.

Several council members wanted reassurance that as the plan moves forward the other library branches in the city don’t suffer and that the city continues to commit resources to the library system.

“I’m going to be supporting this, but we can’t forget the libraries that we have,” said Vinny Palermo, Omaha city council member.

The council doesn’t vote until next week but by all indications, moving the central library to 72nd and Dodge has the votes.

The relocation of the downtown library to a building at 14th and Jones is still underway. It’s expected to remain as the main library. Library officials said that there will be no delays in service during the transition.

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