Omaha Public Library, Do Space, City of Omaha and Other Partners Working Toward a New Citywide Library Facilities Plan for Omaha 

The Omaha community has several opportunities to help determine the vision for the neighborhood branches and Omaha’s library system, including a community survey 

Omaha Neb., February 15, 2023 — Omaha Public Library (OPL), Omaha Public Library Foundation, the City of Omaha, Do Space, and Heritage Omaha are working together with the Omaha community and Margaret Sullivan Studios (MSS), a nationally recognized library expert and design firm that specializes in civic projects, to develop a community-driven 2023 Library Facilities Plan. 

The 2023 Library Facilities Plan will offer recommendations for present and future OPL facilities. The plan will include each library branch’s size, location and design, and ensure that those branches continue to support the collections, programs, technologies, activities and amenities community members value. The plan will also envision future Do Space spaces and programming in partnership with OPL, and align Do Space services with Omaha’s digital equity needs and the needs of the city’s entrepreneurs and makers.

A new 2023 community survey launched on Feb. 15 at OPLSurvey.org focuses on Douglas County’s 12 branch libraries and what community needs look like in each of those diverse Omaha neighborhoods. Feedback received during this process will be used to shape the future of OPL and Do Space services, spaces and more. The community survey will be open for responses until May 1, 2023. Paper copies are 

available in English and Spanish at each OPL branch and Do Space. A Spanish version of the survey is available online at OPLEncuesta.org

A series of neighborhood-focused community engagement opportunities will begin in March. More information on dates, times and locations for those opportunities is coming soon. 

Since the completion of the 2017 Facilities Plan update, there have been significant changes at OPL. These changes include responding to evolving community needs during the pandemic; a new downtown branch location; launch of design development for a new central public library at 72nd and Dodge streets; and the ongoing evolution of a 21st century service model, prioritizing active public spaces and the integration of traditional library services with innovative technology services through a new partnership with Omaha’s Do Space technology library. 

The historic investment in a new world-class central library for the City of Omaha is now underway — including a state-of-the-art automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) Collections Hub, and the integration of nationally-acclaimed Do Space programs and services. This offers OPL an exceptional opportunity to harness momentum for reimagining library facilities to serve Omaha’s diverse communities. This citywide Library Facilities Plan will build on the recommendations of previous facilities planning, take into account the City’s objectives to ensure equity, and be informed by the community’s input. 

“The plan’s recommendations and future funding investments will be rooted in the community’s needs and aspirations,” said Margaret Sullivan, principal at MSS. 

The foundation for the Library Facilities Plan will be built using research, community engagement and key stakeholder input, continually viewed through the lens of the system’s established vision and strategic impact goals. Research and engagement conducted at the beginning of the process help to build plans that analyze the current state of operations and forecast future needs. From there, the system develops practical, actionable strategies for how to meet long-term goals, including considerations for services, spaces, books, technology and staffing. 

Project and community partners will present on initial community engagement findings and the developing 2023 Library Facilities Plan at a Community Share Out in May 2023. Stay tuned for more event details. 

OPL will publish the final 2023 Library Facilities Plan to its website in June 2023. 

Omaha Public Library (OPL) has served City of Omaha and Douglas County residents for 150 years and is one of the most visited institutions in Nebraska. OPL’s mission is to strengthen our community by connecting people with ideas, information and innovative services. Learn about OPL’s collections, facilities, services, programs and more at OmahaLibrary.org.

The Omaha Public Library Foundation has raised more than $10 million in private support for Omaha Public Library programs and services since its creation in 1985. 

Founded in 1854, the City of Omaha is principally responsible for the operational and capital funding, leadership and oversight of the Omaha Public Library (OPL) system. 

Founded in 2015, Do Space is the first technology library in the United States. Created by Heritage Services and operated by the Community Information Trust, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Do Space empowers the community through free access to technology and innovative learning experiences. Do Space is a catalyst for innovation in Omaha. With more than 85,000 members, Do Space is uniquely equipped to expose community members to technology and to inspire them to take ownership of their digital learning experiences. 

Heritage Omaha identifies substantial needs and opportunities with high community impact and supports the realization of viable and sustainable civic projects. To date, Heritage Omaha has raised nearly $1 billion in philanthropic support for capital projects serving the Omaha community, making Omaha and the region a more dynamic and vibrant place to live. Heritage Omaha has a 30-year track record of success in capital campaign leadership, building design and construction project facilitation, multi-stakeholder engagement, due diligence and feasibility studies, and institutional and organizational development. 

Margaret Sullivan Studio has worked with more than 40 public library systems to define what 21st century libraries should and can look like. Among their clients: New York Public Library, Richland (SC) Library, D.C. Public Library, Las Vegas-Clark County Library District, New Haven Free Public Library, Salt Lake City Public Library and Memphis Public Library.

About Author
Rebecca Stavick, CEO

Rebecca is the Executive Director of Do Space, the nation's first technology library. She manages Do Space relationships, direction, and strategy, bringing technology industry leadership and public library sector experience to her role.