Omaha Public Library
LocationOmaha, Nebraska
Access and use
Population served277,239 register users
Other information

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.[2] There are 13 libraries in the system.[3]


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 13 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.[2]

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."

South Omaha Public Library


The Omaha Public Library is governed by a nine-member board of trustees. These people are appointed by the mayor of Omaha and confirmed by the Omaha City Council. Terms are for three years. The Board of Trustees meet every third Thursday of each month at 5 PM 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.[4]


Main article: Omaha Public Library Branches

Current Omaha Public Library locations

Locations listed in alphabetical order by most common name

Name Address Notes Link Virtual Tour
Milton R. Abrahams Branch 5111 North 90th Street Link Tour
Benson Branch 6015 Binney Street Link Tour
Downtown Branch 1401 Jones Street Opened May 21, 2023 after the land W. Dale Clark Main Library had occupied was sold and the building demolished. 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 Tour
Florence Branch 2920 Bondesson Street Link Tour
Millard Branch 13214 Westwood Lane Link Tour
Saddlebrook Branch 14850 Laurel Avenue Opened August 17, 2009, shared facility with the Omaha Public School District. Link Tour
A.V. Sorensen Branch 4808 Cass Street Link Tour
South Omaha Library 2808 Q St Formerly known as South Branch, shared facility with the Metropolitan Community College. Link Tour
W. Clarke Swanson Branch 9101 West Dodge Road Link Tour
Charles B. Washington Branch 2868 Ames Avenue Formerly known as North Branch. Link Tour
Willa Cather Branch 1905 South 44th Street Link Tour
Genealogy & Local History Room 3020 South 84th Street Opened on October 3, 2022 after being relocated from the W. Dale Clark Main Library. Link

Notable Partnerships

The Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium

In May 2017, the Omaha Public Library announced a partnership[5] with the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium. The zoo donated tickets to the library for the purpose of offering them free of charge to library members. A limited number of tickets are delivered to OPL branches for distribution four times a year. Each library branch then offers these one-time visit tickets to interested library members which allows them and three of their family members to visit the zoo for free.

Fontenelle Forest

In April 2018, the Omaha Public Library announced a partnership[6] with Fontenelle Forest. Each of OPL's 13 branches would have 7 free forest admission passes available for check-out year-round. Passes are good for one-time admission on the day of the week designated on the pass, and each pass admits two adults and children from their household.

The Omaha Children's Museum

In August 2018, the Omaha Public Library announced a partnership[7] with the Omaha Children's Museum. Free children's museum tickets would be made available four times a year for distribution to library members. Each free one-time visit ticket is good for up to four family members.

The Lauritzen Gardens

In December 2018, the Omaha Public Library announced a partnership[8] with Lauritzen Gardens. Free garden admission passes, 1 per branch location, would be made available to library members for checkout year-round. The passes are good for a one-time admission of two adults and any children from their household.

The Durham Museum

In January 2021, the Durham Museum announced a partnership[9] with the Omaha Public Library. Free museum admission passes, 1 per branch location, would be made available to library members for checkout year-round. The passes are good for one-time admission of two adults and dependent children or grandchildren from their household.

Heartland B-cycle

The Omaha Public Library has a partnership with Heartland B-cycle. B-cycle provides passes for library members to rent bicycles for free through their bike sharing terminals. B-cycle passes are good for five days and allow OPL members who are 18 and up to check out a bike free of charge. Each OPL branch has four passes available for checkout.

Website and services


Omaha Public Library offers research and reference help through the ASKOPL[10] service. Users can call, email, text, or use online chat to get help from an OPL librarian to answer their question.

Common Soil Seed Library

In 2013, The Omaha Public Library created The Common Soil Seed Library[11] to help encourage a culture of abundance and food literacy, promote urban agriculture, and help diversify open-pollinated plants and seed at the local level. The Common Soil Seed Library is a collection of open-pollinated and heirloom seeds that you can borrow to plant and grow at home. The seed collection depends on donations and seasonality.

Resource Center

Over 100 online resources from eBooks, full-text journals, tutorials and databases are available to OPL members through the Omaha Public Library's Resource Center[12] website.

The Book Drop podcast

The Book Drop[13] is a weekly podcast produced by OPL staff that explores topics related to the Omaha community, libraries and the joy of reading. OPL staff offer reading suggestions, chat with guests and delve into books, resources and pop culture.

Book Clubs

Omaha Public Library offers a variety of book club resources to help start a book club or find a book club to join. Omaha Public Library has hundreds of book club bags to choose from for adults, young adults and children. Each book club bag includes the following: canvas carrying bag, 7–12 copies of the book, and a notebook with discussion questions, author information and other materials.[14]

The Well-Read Collective

The Well-Read Collective[15] is a team of Omaha Public Library staff members who love books and want to talk about what people are reading. The Well-Read Collective goal is to help the public find their next favorite read, explore new genres and talk about new and forthcoming titles. Members of the public can request a custom reading list, invite the collective to their next book club meeting or community event or connect with them at their local OPL branch.

Genealogy & Local History Room

The Genealogy & Local History Room is currently located at 3020 S. 84th Street, the former location of the Shopko department store. The Genealogy & Local History Room houses a non-circulating collection of more than 27,000 items (not counting a large collection of local records and newspapers on microfilm), including an extensive collection of Nebraska resources, most standard genealogy reference works, and a large collection of family genealogies organized by surname. Family research enthusiasts will also find vital records indices, cemetery indices and transcriptions, census indices, county and town histories, and plat books, atlases, and gazetteers. The public can request help with local history and genealogy research by filling out a research request form.

Friends of Omaha Public Library (FOPL)

Friends of the Omaha Public Library

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.

See also


  1. ^ Omaha Public Library Nebraska Library Commission Library Database
  2. ^ a b "Omaha Public Library". 2006-10-07. Archived from the original on 2006-10-07. Retrieved 2023-07-21.
  3. ^ "Locations". Omaha Public Library. Retrieved 2023-07-21.
  4. ^ Board of Directors Omaha Public Library
  5. ^ Report, KETV Staff (2017-05-05). "Free zoo tickets offered to local library members". KETV. Retrieved 2021-03-24.
  6. ^ "Libraries Offer Free Passes to Fontenelle Forest - City of Omaha". Retrieved 2021-03-24.
  7. ^ "Omaha Public Library Offers Children's Museum Tickets - City of Omaha". Retrieved 2021-03-24.
  8. ^ "Omaha Public Library offering free passes to Lauritzen Gardens". KMTV. 2018-12-27. Retrieved 2021-03-24.
  9. ^ "Durham Museum launches Library Pass Program". The Durham Museum. 2021-01-19. Retrieved 2021-03-24.
  10. ^ ASKOPL
  11. ^ The Common Soil Seed Library
  12. ^ Resource Center
  13. ^ The Book Drop
  14. ^ book club resources
  15. ^ Well-Read Collective