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Southwest Omaha still needs its own library branch, construction planned for 2023

Posted at 10:15 PM, Feb 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-07 23:15:43-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — There’s a gap in Omaha’s public library system, and five years after identifying the problem, the city is starting the process of filling that gap.

In the southwest corner of the city, between the Elkhorn branch and the Millard branch, there are neighborhoods needing their own library.

Councilmember Don Rowe, who represents the area, has heard from constituents about the need for a library that is more accessible.

"Millard branch on 132nd is the busiest branch in the city," Rowe said. "That gets the most use of any of the branches, including the central library downtown; so it’s at capacity.”

The library board began looking at closing the gap in 2017 when they created their Master Plan. It was listed as a priority for 2020, but COVID-19 played a part in delaying those plans.

At one point there was a tentative plan to build on land owned by Millard Public Schools. The district was offering to donate or lease the land for a low cost.

Kevin Anderson, Deputy Chief of Staff for the mayor, says this idea isn’t completely off the table, but the location is really far west at 210th and Q st.

“It was a great opportunity for a partnership and really share some of the cost associated with the land and development and construction," Anderson said. "But at the end of the day, we want to get the location right.”

Anderson said that’s what the mayor’s office is focusing on now- finding that right location. That's the goal for 2022.

Under the Capitol Improvement Program, construction is set to begin in 2023. The new branch is estimated to cost $15 million.

Both Anderson and Rowe say the Downtown Library and Central Library projects have no effect on these plans.

“I don’t think this discussion about the Downtown Branch should really impact the southwest," Rowe said. "I think we can do that; personally I think we should be able to do that simultaneously. I don’t see any reason why we need to wait.”

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