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Omaha Public Library is the public library system of the city of Omaha, Nebraska. A library association was founded in 1857, but the library board was not appointed until 1877. In 1895, the library became one of the first six in the nation to create a children's section. There are 12 libraries in the system.
In 1857, the Omaha Library Association was formed, folding after three years. In 1872, a tiny library was opened on the second floor of the Simpson Carriage factory at 14th & Dodge Street. In 1877, the Omaha City Council appointed a library board, which levied a tax to create Omaha Public Library. They immediately accepted 4,500 books from the disbanded association as a gift.
Real estate tycoon Byron Reed donated land and his vast collection of coins, books and manuscripts to the library in the early 1890s, and in 1894, Omaha Public Library opened in its first permanent home at 18th and Harney. A year later, Omaha Public Library became one of the first six public libraries in the nation to create a separate children’s section. A new central library called the W. Dale Clark Library opened at 14th and Farnam Streets in 1977 across from the Gene Leahy Mall.
Of the 12 libraries in the system, the W. Dale Clark Library houses the largest collection, including 7,000 genealogy books; 2,000 photos of the 1898 Trans-Mississippi International Exposition; a cuneiform collection; thousands of old postcards; and a rich collection of Omaha and Nebraska history resources.
Mildred L. Batchelder, Namesake of the American Library Association award given to the publisher of a translated children's book was formerly a librarian at an Omaha Library. One of her stated goals in her work, which was encouraging the translation of children's books from around the world, was "to eliminate barriers to understanding between people of different cultures, races, nations, and languages."
The Omaha Public Library is governed by a nine-member board of directors. These people are appointed by the mayor of Omaha and confirmed by the Omaha City Council. Terms are for three years with the next appointment occurring May 31, 2012. The Board of Directors meet every third Wednesday of the month at different branches throughout the system. Meetings are open to the public and the agenda and minutes are posted on the Omaha Public Library website.
|Current Omaha Public Library locations
Locations listed in alphabetical order by most common name
|W. Dale Clark Main Library||215 South 15th Street||Known as Main Library/Downtown Library.||Link|
|Milton R. Abrahams Branch||5111 North 90th Street||In August 2011, the library closed for renovations and was reopened in January 2012.||Link|
|Benson Branch||60th and Binney Streets||Library and Community Center.||Link|
|Bess Johnson Elkhorn Branch||100 Reading Road||This library became 11th Omaha Public Library location with annexation of Elkhorn on March 1, 2007.||Link|
|Florence Branch||2920 Bondesson||In fall 2010, the library closed for renovations.||Link|
|Millard Branch||13214 Westwood Lane||Link|
|Saddlebrook Branch||14850 Laurel Avenue||Opened August 17, 2009, shared facility with the Omaha Public School District.||Link|
|A.V. Sorensen Branch||4808 Cass Street||Link|
|South Omaha Library||2808 Q St||Formerly known as South Branch, shared facility with the Metropolitan Community College.||Link|
|W. Clarke Swanson Branch||9101 West Dodge Road||Link|
|Charles B. Washington Branch||2868 Ames Avenue||Formerly known as North Branch.||Link|
|Willa Cather Branch||1905 South 44th Street||Link|
The Friends of Omaha Public Library (FOPL) is a non-profit, volunteer run organization which helps to fund literacy and community outreach programs for Omaha Public Library and the Omaha community. FOPL raises money through membership support and sales of used books. General book sales are held quarterly at the W. Clarke Swanson Branch. The Friends of Omaha Public Library can also be found online on AbeBooks as the Omaha Library Friends and on eBay as the Friends of the Omaha Public Library.