Omaha Public Library to host open house for input on new downtown branch | Politics & Government

The Omaha Public Library will host a community forum next weekend to gather ideas for its new downtown library branch.

An open house-style meeting is scheduled for Sunday, May 22, from 2:30 to 4:30 pm at the W. Dale Clark Library downtown.

The meeting comes as design plans for a new library at 1401 Jones St. near completion. It will provide community members “an opportunity to influence how the finished space will be activated and developed,” according to a press release from library officials.

Members of the library design team will share a presentation about the project, followed by a series of exercises designed to help participants share ideas for the new library.

Participants will also have access to representatives from organizations involved with the project to ask one-on-one questions, according to the release.

Planning for the new downtown branch comes as the W. Dale Clark’s services are slated to move to the building on Jones Street west of the Old Market.

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The library’s administrative offices and distribution will move to a former Shopko at 84th and Frederick Streets.

The moves will pave the way for a new Mutual of Omaha headquarters on the W. Dale Clark property at 15th and Douglas Streets just to the west of downtown’s Gene Leahy Mall.

In March, the Omaha City Council approved an agreement that placed HDR in charge of designing the new downtown library branch and distribution center.

The HDR agreement is in addition to $390,000 paid by the city to local development company Noddle Co. to manage the move of the W. Dale Clark.

Noddle’s role includes soliciting proposals for design, construction and relocation services. The gathered proposals, like the one from HDR, are then presented to the city for approval.

Progress on the downtown branch and distribution center continues as planning for a new central library begins.

City officials and an Omaha nonprofit have begun a public engagement phase in the planning of a new central library at 72nd and Dodge Streets that would incorporate the services of one of the country’s first technology libraries, Do Space.

The new central public library would be paid for by the fundraising organization Heritage Omaha, previously called Heritage Services.

The nonprofit is composed of some of Omaha’s most prominent and powerful philanthropists, and has raised money to continue exploration of the potential library project, which some officials have said could cost upwards of $100 million.

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