The new Downtown Branch of Omaha Public Library (OPL) at 1401 Jones Street will open to the public on Sunday, May 21. All are welcome to attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 12:30 p.m., which will include remarks from Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert, City Councilmember Danny Begley, OPL Board President Mike Kennedy, and OPL Executive Director Laura Marlane. Library doors will open at 1 p.m. Upon opening, visitors can expect a variety of activities to help them become better acquainted with the space, including storytimes at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., and a scavenger hunt for all ages.
The new site for OPL’s downtown library was announced by Mayor Stothert in November 2021. W. Dale Clark Main Library closed on August 28, 2022, at which time an interim branch opened at 1410 Howard Street to serve downtown patrons and visitors until construction on the new location was complete.
The building at 1401 Jones Street was designed by renowned Omaha architect John Latenser in 1912 and originally served as the David Cole Creamery. When it closed in 1940, the building was renovated into cold storage, and later operated as an auto parts supply business before being sold to investors in 2013.
Over the past 18 months, OPL staff have worked with HDR, Margaret Sullivan Studio, Noddle Companies, Ronco Construction, and White Lotus Group to create a space that would best meet the needs of the downtown community. The two-story brick building has been transformed into a 21st century library while simultaneously paying homage to its history as part of the Omaha Rail and Commerce Historic District.
Visitors will notice original exposed ceiling beams, brick, and ceramic tile alongside new large windows, and an open floor plan that includes moveable shelves and furnishings to help make the space as flexible as possible. The library offers three meeting rooms and five study rooms. The children’s space features reading nooks, as well as a story house for children to explore and play. The second floor incorporates space for teens and a reading room. Public computers and open study spaces are available throughout the branch.
More information about the Downtown Branch and other facilities projects at OPL is available at omahalibrary.org.