Omaha officials, nonprofit leaders hear from public on plans for future central library | Politics & Government

Claudia Granillo would like to see a future Omaha central library house a fish tank. Installing hydroponic gardens could educate the community about urban agriculture. Also, a seed library would be nice.

And the building should not be solely gray, Granillo, an Omaha community well-being specialist, said.Because gray is sad.

“There are a lot of talented Omaha artists that can put in a beautiful mural,” she said. “A mural would be cool.”

Granillo was one of about 40 people to attend an open house Thursday at the Omaha Public Library’s AV Sorensen branch – a public forum for community members to offer feedback on plans for a new central library.

Project planners from design firm Margaret Sullivan Studio oversaw the brainstorming workshop. Dream big, participants were instructed.

“I feel really connected to our library industries,” Granillo said, adding that she believes libraries are “hubs for information” and community connectedness.

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Omaha officials announced in January their intent to develop a proposal for a new central library. As envisioned, the facility would be constructed at the current site of Do Space, at 72nd and Dodge Streets, and would incorporate the latter’s services.

Do Space, which opened in 2015, is a digital library where members can use computers and other technology like 3D printers.

Officials estimate the new project could cost more than $ 100 million.

Library officials have collected more than 1,500 surveys, and the public can continue to comment online through April 15 at on the “connect” page. Results will be shared on the central public library website by the end of the month.

Laura Marlane, executive director of the Omaha Public Library, said stakeholders with whom she has communicated to date are excited for a 21st century library.

“This would really open up opportunities for technology that have been hampered at the (main) library,” she said. “I know many people feel warmly for that building and grew up with that. … But we’ve reached the point with technology where we spend more time trying to work around our facility than with it. ”

City officials for years have debated an overhaul of Omaha’s libraries. This latest announcement comes as the city prepares to demolish the downtown W. Dale Clark Library to make room for a new Mutual of Omaha headquarters.

Officials have stressed that the possibility of a new central library is separate from the demolition of the W. Dale Clark.

Marlane said the goal is to close the W. Dale Clark Library by the end of 2022.

That library’s public services are slotted to move four blocks from the current location to 1401 Jones St. Administrative offices and distribution will move to a former Shopko store at 84th and Frederick Streets.

A meeting to review feedback will occur June 6 at a time and place to be determined. If the project moves forward, the public will have additional opportunities to comment on proposed designs.

Granillo said she is approaching the project with an open mind.

“It’s a big change,” she said. “Change is hard. I totally understand where people come from on all sides. ”

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