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Downtown Omaha library is now officially closed and will get temporary location; the 1970s building to be torn down by the end of the year

OMAHA, Nebraska – The W. Dale Clark branch of the Omaha Public Library has officially shut down its operations, less than a year after it was announced that the downtown Omaha library will be razed and replaced with a new building.

“All the emotions,” said Rachel Steiner, Omaha Public Library assistant director. “There’s happiness that we’re transitioning and moving on to our future plans, there’s sadness because, especially our patrons that have gone maybe only to Dale Clark their whole lives, or have childhood memories of it are definitely feeling that and reminiscing.”

The structure, which was constructed in the 1970s, is scheduled to be demolished by the end of the year. It will be eventually replaced by a skyscraper that was constructed by Mutual of Omaha.

“We really like this library, too, because of where it is,” says 11-year-old Malia Rogel-Mendoza.

Malia, her brother Alex Isa, and her father all went to the library on the very last day it was open to check out comic books, take photographs in front of the bookcases, and go over the collection.

Malia and Alex Isa expressed their regret on Sunday at having to leave the facility where they had rented books and rode their bikes for such a significant portion of their childhood.

“I was really sad that we won’t see this building anymore because we really like it.”

“It’s pretty much welcomed all walks of life from Omaha,” says Eli Berry, who came to use the computers at the branch for the last time, and to say goodbye.

“I came here as a child and then I moved away from Omaha for a long time, and I’ve only been back for a few years so it was nice to be able to come back here and see that it was still here, still serving the community and it was functioning,” he says.

Even for the employees of the Omaha Public Library, the move away from the main library is a bittersweet experience.

“There’s a lot who have worked for the system and worked at Dale Clark for a long time,” Steiner said. “But I would say overall, people I talk to are eager and excited about what’s coming.”

Monday, the new interim downtown library branch will open at 14th and Howard streets. The single-room facility is insignificant when compared to the W. Dale Clark structure, which is several thousand square feet in size.

According to Steiner, the virtue of patience will be essential during the next half year.

“Our biggest collection really is at Main, and people can come in and find what they need, and here it’s not going to necessarily be that easy so people are gonna have to talk to us librarians and ask for what they want so we can have it shipped over here for them.”

She claims that the W. Dale Clark volumes will still be available at the interim branch; however, the process to get them will take significantly more time.

In addition, because there is less room, there are fewer computers. Steiner suggests that users should be mentally prepared for the possibility of having certain time limits imposed on them while they are utilizing them.

The downtown library will continue to operate out of the interim branch until the building of the new downtown facility is finished, which is anticipated to occur in the month of March.

“Soon we actually hope to have some renderings of that space here in this space, to excite our patrons about it,” Steiner said.

The interim branch will keep the same hours as the W. Dale Clark location, which are as follows:

  • 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays
  • 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays
  • 1-p.m. Sundays

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