When it comes to serving the citizens of Omaha, OPL and the City of Omaha Parks and Recreation Department do different things with a shared goal in mind: to improve the quality of Omahans’ lives. While the two city departments have collaborated on events in the past, they have made a more conscious effort to do so in the past few years, said Julie Humphrey, youth services manager at OPL.
“When we work together, we have a greater reach and the opportunity to interact with kids and families we might not otherwise meet,” said Humphrey.
The departments share three facilities across the city, so working together makes sense. Florence, Saddlebrook and Sorensen branches each share a building with a community center managed by the Parks and Recreation department.
“All three facilities have helped foster more cross-promotion and partnering between departments,” said Tracy Stratman, recreation manager at Omaha Parks and Recreation. “I look at Saddlebrook as an example of our departments building something great together for the city, as it serves all generations and demographics.”
Katy Lofgren, youth services librarian at Saddlebrook Branch, meets with the manager of the Saddlebrook Community Center to coordinate events throughout the year. OPL and Parks co-host annual signature events like the Easter Eggstravaganza, Halloween Spooktacular and Noon Year’s Eve. Now, the two departments are working to increase coordination on smaller programs that each host, as well, Lofgren said.
“The best part of sharing a facility is the ability to dream bigger when it comes to our programs, and having a larger pool of creativity,” said Lofgren. “Combining our resources for one program saves time and money for both entities.”
Additionally, OPL hosts Out & About Storytimes at several parks throughout Omaha. These events invite families to enjoy storytimes in areas of the city they may not have already explored.
“We have the ability to increase users’ health and happiness in many ways,” Stratman said. “Together, we can only better serve the community.”