Designers Hear Community Feedback and Ideas for New Downtown Omaha Library

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – As the community prepares to say goodbye to the W. Dale Clark Library in the heart of downtown, they are also helping to create the new downtown library just a few blocks away.

Sunday afternoon at the soon to be demolished W. Dale Clark Library, community members shared ideas with designers on what the new library in downtown Omaha should offer.

“I think when they get all these notes that we’ve generated, put them together and summarize them, they’ll have a lot of really good ideas, and I think the library will be better because it’s not just a a handful of people with ideas is a lot of people, and that’s always better,” says Paulette Sandene, a new resident of downtown Omaha.

Sandene says events like these allow for two-way communication between city planners and citizens, unlike public hearings with city council members, she says.

The new downtown library is moved to 14th and Jones. W. Dale Clark will be demolished by the end of the year to make way for Mutual of Omaha’s new downtown skyscraper headquarters.

“I know when a lot of these changes were going through city government and stuff, a lot of people felt frustrated, they felt like they weren’t necessarily being listened to, and you know, I felt like that too that at a certain degree,” says Rosemary Keenan, who has lived in downtown Omaha for about a year. “It’s good that we at least have the chance to provide feedback on this part of the library.”

“Sometimes people underestimate the value of public services, not everything needs to be commercialized, there should be things the government provides for free. I want to make sure there’s a public aspect to all this redevelopment of Omaha that we’ve seen, it’s not just about profit and putting names on buildings, it puts the citizens of the city ​​at the top of the list of who is going to be listened to and who is important,” adds Sandene.

Those who design the library, Studio Margaret Sullivan, HDRand Noddle Companies, want to know what is most important to community members when it comes to the new space.

Keenan says fostering engagement is a big plus for her.

“I want the library to encourage more community involvement,” she says. “I’d like to see more local events, community outreach and more places to engage with citizens so we can get to know each other and hopefully the downtown becomes a little closer.”

Sandene says the new library should be comfortable.

“Somewhere you can snuggle up with a book, be undisturbed, and feel like you’re at home or at your grandma’s,” she says. “So it doesn’t look like an office building, it looks like somewhere you want to hang out like an old-fashioned bookstore or someone’s school library when they were a kid”

Officials say the interior design phase of the new downtown library is nearly complete, but feedback from people like Sandene, Keenan and others who came up with ideas will help influence how the spaces are used.

The same design team is also creating the proposed new Central Library at 72nd and Dodge Streets, an open house to pitch design ideas and gather community feedback was held last month.

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