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New library requesting $20 million in funding from city before private fundraising

Posted at 10:20 PM, Jul 19, 2022

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — There is a lot that goes into a new library. 

Omaha’s new proposed library doesn’t just have more space for books.

Its plans also include things like a one-of-a-kind storage and retrieval system, reimagined green spaces and even broadcast equipment for public access television.

The features all add up to make a state-of-the-art library and one that will come with a significant price tag.

“It's looking like it's going to be at least $140 million in total and up to $150 million,” said Rachel Jacobsen, President of Heritage Services.

Jacobsen and Heritage Services will be a part of the Community Information Trust or CIT that includes the City of Omaha and DoSpace, which currently occupies the 72nd and Dodge location where the new library would be built.

Right now the new library only exists in concept images and schematics and Jacobsen said they won’t be able to move forward without funding.

Most of that funding will come from private donors but Jacobsen is asking the city to pitch in $20 million for the new library.

“Until we get the approvals and commitments from all of the different entities we aren’t going to formally ask for pledges. All of that fundraising work is going to happen over the next year, a long with the next phases of building design and our goal would be to fundraise 85, at least 95% of our goal before we break ground next summer,” said Jacobsen.

The new library will also have to come with a new operating budget for OPL and city council members want to make sure that future funding won’t forget about existing library branches.

“As one who thinks the library has been traditionally underfunded, I think its important to have this conversation so if we are taking on a substantial new asset then other library branches or other libraries in our system aren’t suffering or there is supplanting going on. I know that’s definitely the expectations of donors when they make a contribution like this,” said Pete Festersen, Omaha City Council president.

Tuesday’s council meeting was just a public hearing and the city council won’t vote on whether or not to approve the $20 million in funding until their next meeting.

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