Downtown Omaha library officially closes; interim location ready to open

W. Dale Clark Library in downtown Omaha officially closed its doors Sunday, Aug. 28, 2022.
Published: Aug. 29, 2022 at 10:49 AM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Less than a year after the announcement was made that the downtown Omaha library would be demolished and replaced, the W. Dale Clark branch has officially closed its doors.

“All the emotions,” said Rachel Steiner, Omaha Public Library assistant director. “There’s happiness that we’re transitioning and moving on to our future plans, there’s sadness because, especially our patrons that have gone maybe only to Dale Clark their whole lives, or have childhood memories of it are definitely feeling that and reminiscing.”

The building, built in the 1970s, is set to be torn down by the end of the year. Eventually, a skyscraper built by Mutual of Omaha will replace it.

“We really like this library, too, because of where it is,” says 11-year-old Malia Rogel-Mendoza.

Malia spent the last day of the library with her brother, Alex Isa, and her dad, taking photos in the rows of bookshelves and checking out comics.

Malia and Alex Isa said Sunday that they’re sad to say goodbye to the building after spending so much time riding their bikes and checking out books there.

“I was really sad that we won’t see this building anymore because we really like it.”

“It’s pretty much welcomed all walks of life from Omaha,” says Eli Berry, who came to use the computers at the branch for the last time, and to say goodbye.

“I came here as a child and then I moved away from Omaha for a long time, and I’ve only been back for a few years so it was nice to be able to come back here and see that it was still here, still serving the community and it was functioning,” he says.

The departure from the main library is bittersweet for the Omaha Public Library staff, too.

“There’s a lot who have worked for the system and worked at Dale Clark for a long time,” Steiner said. “But I would say overall, people I talk to are eager and excited about what’s coming.”

Monday, the new interim downtown library branch will open at 14th and Howard streets. The one-room space is nothing compared to the several thousand square foot W. Dale Clark building.

Steiner said patience will be the key for the next six months.

“Our biggest collection really is at Main, and people can come in and find what they need, and here it’s not going to necessarily be that easy so people are gonna have to talk to us librarians and ask for what they want so we can have it shipped over here for them.”

All the books from W. Dale Clark will still be accessible at the interim branch, but it will simply take longer, she says.

And with a smaller space, there are fewer computers. Steiner says people may need to be prepared to have some time restrictions while using them.

The downtown library will function out of the interim branch until the new downtown location’s construction is completed, which is expected to be in March.

“Soon we actually hope to have some renderings of that space here in this space, to excite our patrons about it,” Steiner said.

The hours at the interim branch will be the same as at W. Dale Clark:

  • 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays
  • 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays
  • 1-p.m. Sundays