OPL Annual Report 2021

Page 1


An avid young reader poses with their recent checkouts from Millard Branch on September


22, 2021.



The board voted to permanently eliminate daily overdue fines in March 2021 as a way to alleviate barriers to using the library and to encourage patrons to return library materials without fear of punitive action.

Midway through the year, interest in OPL’s facilities master plan motivated many community members to speak in support of the library. The board was presented with measures to help advance the facilities plan. The first opportunity came through a resolution to explore a proposal for a potential new central library in partnership with Heritage Omaha. Soon thereafter, Mayor Jean Stothert announced that W. Dale Clark Main Library would be relocated per the 2017 facilities plan recommendation that Main Library be replaced with a smaller, more efficient neighborhood branch. All of this happened simultaneously with the development of a new strategic plan.

Mike Kennedy President

Keegan Korf Vice President

Jen Rae Wang Treasurer

John R. KristinRochelleTulaniKeithCameronBarrettGalesLutzGrundyMeadowsMullenWilliams

Just when we thought there weren’t any surprises left after 2020, this year provided a whole new series of opportunities, issues and challenges for the board to thoughtfully consider.

Many changes are yet to come, and we encourage Omaha and Douglas County residents to stay informed and engaged. This is a special time to create libraries to meet the evolving needs of the people who call this community home, and we want you to be a part of it.


implemented facilities improvements throughout the year, including new flooring at Millard and W. Clarke Swanson branches, new book drop boxes at A.V. Sorensen and Willa Cather branches, and a new storytime space at W. Dale Clark Main Library.

We approached the second year of COVID-19 with cautious optimism. All 12 Omaha Public Library branches had reopened following a closure in 2020, and staff members were making strides in providing safe service to patrons. They carefully worked toward opening meeting and study rooms, increasing computer time, and inviting patrons back into branches for in-person Severalprogramming.branches

More than ever, we heard from our community about what they’d like to see in OPL programs and services, as well as facilities. We appreciate every person who participated in a forum or board meeting, completed a survey, or sent an email. We understand that change is difficult, and we feel confident that we can position OPL for the future while honoring what people love about their libraries today.

BorrowedItems 3,677,914 LibraryVisits 802,125 MembersLibrary 248,445 WebsiteVisits 1,327,225 ComputerDesktopSessions 155,618 DownloadsDigital books(audiobooks,&videos) 769,821 REVENUE City of Omaha (General Fund) $14,863,051 Douglas County $2,326,500 Omaha Public Library Foundation $330,364 Fees $13,496 (copies, fax, research, printing, lost/damaged items) State aid, etc. $176,246 Friends of Omaha Public Library $60,139 Other grants and income $393,050 Total $18,162,846 EXPENDITURES Personnel $11,100,400 Collections $1,758,621 Facilities* $1,260,645 Technology $846,456 Summer Reading Program $41,094 Other operating expenses $1,414,978 Outreach & programs $89,960 Staff support $16,350 Total $16,528,504 *Facilities administration and maintenance labor are accounted for under personnel. 2021 YEAR IN REVIEW REVIEWINYEAR 3

A young patron uses the children’s computers at Bess Johnson Elkhorn Branch on September 23, 2021.


Overall, 14,912 people participated in SRP, logging over 156,000 hours of reading! More than 59 percent of participants completed their SRP goals. The Omaha Storm Chasers sponsored attendance for kids and teens who completed their goals during two baseball games in August. Thank you to SRP presenting sponsor, the Richard Brooke Foundation, and many other generous sponsors who helped make the program possible.


OPL ceased to charge daily fines on overdue materials after closing its doors in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Upon OPL’s reopening in September 2020, the board of trustees voted to continue waiving daily overdue fines until library operations returned to normal, without restrictions due to Directed Health Measures or capacity limits. During their monthly meeting on March 18, 2021, the board unanimously voted in favor of a resolution to eliminate daily overdue fines permanently. The action was retroactive, thereby waiving existing daily overdue fines on library accounts.

The 2021 Summer Reading Program (SRP) celebrated the theme “Tails and Tales,” and offered fun stories and fantastic programs featuring animals all summer long!

An OPL librarian films the Chalco Hills Out & About Online Live Storytime on June 14, 2021.

All ages participated by reading or listening to a book for 10 hours between June 1 and July 31. Kids and teens received a book just for signing up, and earned additional rewards at OPL branch locations once they completed their goals. For the second year in a row, the free, educational and entertaining programs that typically take place at OPL branches and in the community each summer took place virtually. OPL presented live storytimes from locations “Out & About,” and offered opportunities to meet interesting animals, make creative crafts, solve escape room puzzles, join online book clubs, and so much more.


The elimination of daily overdue fines intends to alleviate barriers to using the library and to encourage patrons to return library materials without fear of punitive action. Other fees associated with the replacement of missing items (not returned after 21 days overdue) or damaged materials are still enforced.

A patron checks out their selections at A.V. Sorensen Branch on May 7, 2021.

“Overdue fines only accounted for a fraction of a percent of OPL’s overall budget,” said OPL Executive Director Laura Marlane. “This change will not adversely affect OPL’s budget, but it will help to the ease the burden of an additional expense during a time when many people are working to restore normalcy to their lives.”

Co-authors and Omahanatives Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar joined nearly 100 participants for a discussion about their book, “You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey.” Much of the book is set in Omaha, and provides a unique perspective to the way local participants may experience our community. The authors are sisters who shared several family stories and answered questions from participants about some of their favorite places in Omaha.

As a finale to the annual Summer GutmanProgram,ReadingauthorDan–bestknown for

As part of the annual Jane Austen Tea, Juliette Wells presented, “Looking at Emma Woodhouse with 21st-Century Eyes.” Wells is an author, editor, and Jane Austen scholar, as well as an Elizabeth Conolly Todd Distinguished Professor of English in the Center for the Humanities at Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland. Nearly 65 people attended this popular event.

OPL hosted seven accomplished and award-winning authors in 2021. These virtual events provide attendees with opportunities to hear from well-known authors and learn more about them and their writing process.

Lauren Tarshis, author of the popular “I Survived” series for kids, spoke to 120 participants about her struggles with reading as a child and shared her approach to researching the historical periods in which she sets her books. Ten signed copies of the author’s books were raffled during the event, much to the delight of the winning attendees.

August 5, 2021 | Timothy Schaffert

December 16, 2021 | Lauren Tarshis

July 30, 2021 | Dan Gutman

Amber Ruffin & Lacey Lamar


September 2, 2021

June 1, 2021 | Oba William King

December 11, 2021 | Juliette Wells


In celebration of his new novel, “The Perfume Thief,” Nebraska author Timothy Schaffert joined 44 participants and OPL Adult Services Manager Amy Mather for a conversation about his latest work. Schaffert read from his book and answered questions from the audience about everything from his writing process to who he would cast in a film based on his book.

Known as “The Poetic Storyteller,” Oba William King presented a program using rhythmic drumming and rhyme to showcase African folktales and poetry in the tradition of the African Griot. More than 85 people attended this allages program to help kick off OPL’s annual Summer Reading Program.

the popular series, “My Weird School,” as well as “The Baseball Card Adventures” series –presented to a group of 33 participants. Gutman spoke about how he got started writing, his books and the writing process. He answered questions from the audience and shared a chapter from one of his new books.

Each year, OPL encourages the community to vote for and read one book as a way to promote literacy and inspire discussion among Omaha and Douglas County residents. The selection is celebrated with book talks and other related programming.


Authors Lacey Lamar (left) and Amber Ruffin discuss their book during a virtual author visit on September 2, 2021.

The authors are sisters and both originally from Omaha. Ruffin now lives in New York and hosts “The Amber Ruffin Show.” Lamar still lives in Nebraska and shares stories about

Patrons had the opportunity to get involved with Omaha Reads by checking out the book, participating in a program, and discussing the book with friends, family and neighbors. The authors joined OPL for a virtual visit and Q&A session as part of the campaign. The book was checked out 1,142 times during the campaign, and more than 115 people attended online events.


The 2021 Omaha Reads selection was “You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories About Racism,” by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar. The book is a New York Times bestseller that tackles modern-day racism with a balance of levity and gravity.

everything from racist donut shops to strangers putting their whole hand in her hair, and from being mistaken for a prostitute to being mistaken for Harriet Tubman. These absurd anecdotes illustrate everyday experiences of racism with humor and heart.


During summer 2021, OPL staff began work on a new strategic plan to help guide library services over the next three to five years. OPL’s previous strategic plan was created more than 10 years ago, and much has changed in the world and our community since that time. Developing a new strategic plan provided OPL with an opportunity to evaluate how to meet community needs and create goals to help it become the best library system for Omaha and Douglas County residents.

On November 23, 2021, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert announced the intent to relocate OPL’s downtown library from 215 S. 15th St., to 1401 Jones St., and library administrative offices to a former Shopko at 84th & Frederick streets. These moves are the first steps toward implementing priorities established in OPL’s 2010 and 2017 facilities master plan. The plans recommended that W. Dale Clark Main Library be replaced with a smaller, more efficient downtown branch. The new downtown library branch will revitalize a building that was originally constructed in 1912, and served as a creamery throughout most of its existence.

An artist’s rendering of the building at 1401 Jones Street showcases the vision for a new downtown branch.

An artist’s rendering illustrates the vision for a new downtown branch at 1401 Jones Street.

Central Library

OPL staff worked with a consultant to gather input from internal committees and the public to help create a new vision for library services. In October 2021, a series of community forums took place at different library branches throughout the city. Participants expressed their ideas, hopes and vision for the future of OPL, and heard from others in the community who are passionate about their libraries. Feedback was also collected through a survey. Results from the input-gathering phase were analyzed to help answer what our community prioritizes for its library system and to develop strategic goals to address those priorities. These goals create benchmarks for advancement in the areas of collections, literacy and technology with major facilities changes on the horizon. A strategic plan draft was presented to the OPL board of trustees in spring 2022.


Downtown Branch & Library Administrative Branch

During their November 2021 board meeting, the OPL board of trustees approved a resolution to work “jointly with Heritage Services, the City of Omaha, and other community stakeholders to create a plan for enhancing existing and creating new public library spaces and programming for the benefit of all citizens of Omaha.” This commitment created a foundation for the exploration of a potential new central library. “A new central library provides OPL with an opportunity to welcome its patrons at an accessible location, offering services they value and expect, while incoporating flexibility and technology that will help meet their needs well into the future,” said OPL Executive Director Laura Marlane.

Updates on major facilities projects, relevant documents, and related news can be found at omahalibrary.org/facilities-projects.


The Friends board of directors presented OPL Executive Director Laura Marlane and OPL staff with the Special Friends Award, recognizing their service and dedication to the mission of the Friends. A statement from the board said, “The recipients of our Special Friends Award are more than just friends. They are our warriors in this pandemic…They are the very soul of Omaha Public

Beatrix Gallagher places first out of 163 fifth-grade entries in the Virginia Frank Writing Contest.


In 2021, book sales resumed in June, after suspending in March 2020 due to COVID-19. Despite only being able to offer six months of book sales, the Friends accounted for 5,179 hours of volunteer service and generated more than $72,450 in online and in-person book sale Learnrevenue.more about becoming a Friend at friendsomahalibrary.org

Friends of Omaha Public Library is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, grassroots organization dedicated to raising money for the library, providing volunteers, and promoting the library to the greater community. Volunteer members raise funds with book sales at W. Clarke Swanson Branch on the first Saturday of each month and every Thursday. They also raise funds through internet book sales, memberships, and donations to benefit OPL, its patrons, and the larger Omaha community.


Hayden Blaney places second out of 75 seventhgrade entries in the Virginia Frank Writing Contest.

Brian Overton President Jeanne Spence Past President Jess Winter Treasurer Barb Nielson Secretary Carol Ebdon, Ph.D. Polly Goecke Matt MeghanHill Hope Mary MaryMargaretAliceJansen,GallagherMDLindsayPopeAnnSturek

2021 Highlights

2021 MembersBoard

recognized 12 young people for their excellence in writing. Winning students in grades 5-8 received certificates of achievement and cash prizes as part of the annual Virginia Frank Memorial Writing Contest. School libraries where those students attend received matching cash prizes. Students wrote a short piece of original fiction featuring a character from a book they had read on their own. The Friends received 540 entries, representing 86 Douglas and Sarpy County schools across 20 districts and 41 ZIP codes. Winning stories are featured at omahalibrary.org/virginia-frankmemorial-writing-contest.

OPLF welcomed author Yaa Gyasi to Omaha for its annual fundraiser. Hosted at Temple Israel for guests both in-person and virtually, Between the Lines raised $42,000 for OPL.

grants allow OPLF to make timely decisions about how to best allocate funds to maximize its impact – and OPL’s – in any given Atyear.OPLF,

staff and volunteers have been encouraged and inspired by the outpouring of community support – financial and otherwise –for OPL from so many. Raising private dollars for OPL has been our proudest achievement since we opened our doors in 1985. It’s the only work we know, and it’s the work we do best.

Direct library

As of printing, OPLF’s 2021 audit was pending. These totals were submitted by OPLF staff. For more information, call (402) 444-4589.

Mike Kennedy OPL Board of Trustees President Laura Marlane OPL DirectorExecutive FoundationStaff

Ex Officio Members



contributions $485,897 Development $240,272

2021 MembersBoard

Expansion of OPL’s collections was again the focus for 2021. This includes funding for physical books available in OPL’s 12 branches, along with eBooks and downloadable audiobooks accessible through omahalibrary.org. OPLF exceeded its 2021 fundraising goal of $130,000 for collections.

Total Revenue $976,922

Author Yaa Gyasi (left) speaks with OPLF Board President Jo Giles at the annual Between the Lines fundraiser on October 5, 2021.

Dick Kelley, a founding member of the OPLF board of directors and former member of the OPL board of trustees, received the 2021 Barbara Bock-Mavis Leadership Award at the fundraiser. Kelley attended the event with his daughter, Beth Smith.


Private dollars raised each year offer an opportunity for patrons to create lasting memories: attending a program (virtual or in-person), chatting about books with their favorite library staff member, hearing from a local expert, meeting an author, grabbing seeds for their summer garden, and Unrestrictedmore.

Since 1985, the mission of the Omaha Public Library Foundation (OPLF) has been to raise funds and advocate for OPL. In that time, it has funded a majority of OPL’s programming through contributions from foundations, corporations, and individuals.

Jo Giles President Tina Lonergan Vice President Dave Moline Treasurer Mark McMillan Secretary Katie Bruno Traci JeffRalphHancockKelloggKosseMaryO’Donohue

& office expenses $56,333 Total $782,502

OPLF also raises funds for OPL special projects as needed. It is responsive to the library’s priorities each year and provides OPL with flexibility that publicly-funded entities often lack.

Wendy Townley Executive Director Sandra Lyden Grants & RelationsDonorManager

For the last several years, for example, OPLF has increased its collections support to OPL in order to supplement the number of books for young readers that are on the shelves during the busy summer months. The books purchased remain available year round.


Thad & Sharon Call

Mammel Family Foundation


Michael & Deana Liddy Dan & Tina Lonergan

Collective for Youth Dr.CoxC.C. & Mabel L. Criss Foundation Friendship Program

Marcia Bechtel

SokolofFoundationFoundation in Memory of Richard Rosinsky

Robert & Jill Cochran Maurice & Cora Conner


Jane & Robert Slezak West O Fitness Phil & Nancy Wolf

Marianne Bruner

$500+ Doug & Cathy Aden Anna Applegate Zac GeorgeBaer& Kathleen Bigelow Jeffrey RichardBoyum&Carol Britten

Sharee & Murray Newman Fund Jane

Michael & Laura Alley


Tim Davlin & Ann O’Connor Roy & Gloria Dinsdale

Amy L. Scott Family Foundation

Jo Anne Amoura Amy Armbruster

Clifton B. & Anne Stuart Batchelder Foundation

William & Ruth Scott Family Foundation

Sandor & Rhonda Chomos Julie & Scott Cobb

Webster Family Foundation

Silvia Roffman

$50,000+ Holland Foundation

Special Donor-Advised Fund of the Jewish Federation of Omaha Foundation

MichaelFoundation&Susan Lebens

January 1–December 31, 2021


The Adah & Leon Millard


Sandra Price

Fred & Eve Simon Charitable GilbertFoundationC.Swanson Foundation

$30,000+ PeterAnonymousKiewit Foundation

Jill EileenTenaska,ElizabethThePaulSlosburg-Ackerman&AnnetteSmithSoenerFoundationSummersInc.M.Wirth



Lynn & Thomas Ashby

Weitz Family Foundation

John & Elizabeth Lauritzen

Ruth DavidSage&Nola Schettler


The Heider Family Foundation Pacific Life Foundation

LynnDMSi& Cindy Gray Bill & Ann Hall

Dan & Kari Kinsella Bob & Kathy Kunkle Roland & Jean Mariucci John & Merrilee Miller

Claire M. Hubbard Foundation

JohnSusanPetersenPetersen&Kathleen Ransom Ann SarahAnnaSusanEmilyRotary-SuburbanRinne&JoshuaStatesVosburgWastellWatson

The Sherwood Foundation

MutualFoundationofOmaha Companies

Deryl & Ramona Hamann Dawn HowardNoreenJensenJohnson&Gloria Kaslow

Morrissey Engineering

$250+ Anonymous (4) LuJean AmazonSmileAllen Foundation

Hawks Foundation Lozier Foundation

Richard Brooke Foundation

Shirley & Daniel Neary Justine Petsch Lewis & Winifred Pinch


Richard Kelley

Allan & Ann Mactier Charitable MetroFoundationOmaha Medical Society

Anonymous (3) Alley Poyner

Roberta Carlson

Memorial and honorarium gifts are recognized in OPL’s quarterly Connect newsletter throughout the year. Thank you, donors! Your support of the Omaha Public Library Foundation makes a difference.

Cline Williams Wright Johnson & DennisRedNebraskaRochelleMaggieMikeSteveMartyHumanitiesHeritageJosephJohnCoxOldfatherBusiness&TerriDiesingDrugmandOmahaNebraskaMageeMartin&AmyHaddad&NancyMcCarthy&MichaelMcMeekinMullenArtsCouncil&JannThomas&PatriciaWiederholt

RBC Wealth Management Anne & David Rismiller

Ike & Roz Friedman Foundation

Evelyn Bingel

Nancy Darst

BaumstarkAnonymousGiving Account

Bluestem Prairie Foundation

Verda Bialac


Tony & Claudia Deeb

Judith Douglas


Carol Dr.JanetColetteJohnMarkDanTomLynnTamoraMattLauraRiccardoRobinPatriciaMonnieTomDonnaJosephKnitAndreaLyleKiewitBillJenniferLisaJoyceNancyGeorgeJulieJenniferMarlenePamalaRobertKristineCorieMarilynDeniseMatthewKaseyHollyHELPDebbieLisaMaryDr.JohnRogerSarahDavidKathyBobJohnJeffGlowackiDanStaceyKristineRichardJennaRohanTomRebeccaMaxHanneloreEbdonEkstrom&ElizabethEngelEvans&JanetFerlicFernandoGarcia&MelanieGerbeling&JaredGerber&KirkGermany&SarahGilbertFamily&ChrisGoeser&KayLynnGoldner&RosemaryGrossGross&JoanHaasHaddad&JackieHarnedHartigan&Mrs.HerbertHartmanClareHaven&ChadHedrickHeeneyFoundationofOmahaHermanHesseHillHillHoegemeyerHollandHullHuxJanousekJennum&ChrisJerramJohnson&MargaretJohnsonJohnsonJonesKammererKaweckiKernenKinley&GwenTeepleKinnanWits&MollyLangLangelLieferLindsayLontorMalone&MaryMarchioMarlane&PaulRichards&SarahMasonMcClellenMcCormackMcDermottMcGill&DianneMcMillan&MegMcNealMcVaneyMeisinger&Mrs.PaulMeissner

Jim & Gail Binderup


Marc & Helen Bernat


Shirley Siebler

William Chaney

Gary & Liza Choquette

Carolyn MargaretRalphNoreenSashaLynnNicoleChesterMarkKimPatriciaJoeUnionUnionTurnNicholeBillDonaldKevinJanetDorothyDrs.CharleneThomasJoyceNinaSusanBruceGloriaToddRichardJoeDenaDianeTracyLauraJulieSylviaBethMaxChitritaAnnRomanceRichardReRUNSDickJennyNealRobertPaulineRitaSusanDeniseJohnGlendaChuckCarlRyanPennyLenDeniseOmahaOlssonChristineMaryStephanieMillerMiske&RobertMollnerO’Connor-AdminTeamCommunityFoundationOstrom&BonniePacerParkerPelster&MaryPeters&CharPetersonPiercePollack&HobsonPowellPrazanPriceQuinn&PatriciaRanney&DebRatzlaffRazor&MaryLynnReiserRFunInc.RhodesAuthorsoftheHeartlandRosingRoy&KarenRudolphRyanSchreinerSchroederSchumacher&CurtisSchwartzkopfSeaverSherrill&JudyShown&CarolynSieling&BetianaSimonSorensenSpearsStalnakerStrickler&MarkSumnerTapeTarsneyJon&AnnTaylorThompsonThompson&AngelicaThompsonThomsen&JoanTruhlsen&KevinTurgeontotheWonderfulFundPacificFundforEffectiveGovernmentPacificGiveplusProgram&PegValentaVikWalker&PatriciaWanglerWaters&TedWheelerWilliamsWilsonWitty&ClaudiaYribarZiegler

Brian Day


Holly Dunning Bren Duvall

Lori RonaldHedstrom&Linda Hospodka

Stephanie Iwan Flamme

Robert Kearney

Andrena MacLeod

Stephanie Adams



Anonymous (4)

Ann & Gordon Moshman

Danielle Rozmus

Erwin & Elaine Klabunde

Linda & Charles Duckworth Nils

James & Patricia Manion

Diana Nevins

Terry & Linda Haubold

Mrs. Frank Partsch

Jane Kugler & Doug Vonderfecht


Traci Hancock

Thomas & Nancy Gallagher


Marc & Joan Kraft


Merritt Keiser

Norma & Cliff Pountney

Emily Kemp


Greg & Sue Rusie

Caitlin Benton

Mike & Michelle Berlin

Matt Couch

Elizabeth A. Johnson – Senior Manager of Operations


South Omaha Library

Lori Nelson Willa Cather Branch

Ben Brick – Collection Processing Manager

Bess Johnson Elkhorn Branch

Evonne Edgington Millard Branch

Jessica Johnson – Borrower Services Manager

Rachel Steiner – Assistant Director

Linda Miles – Facilities Manager

Nancy Novotny – Youth & Family Services Manager

Autumn Hill A.V. Sorensen Branch

Casey Kralik

W. Clarke Swanson Branch


Theresa Jehlik – Strategy & Business Intelligence Manager

Julie Humphrey Saddlebrook Branch

Lois Imig Florence Branch

OPL strengthens our communities by connecting people with ideas, information and innovative services.

Laura Marlane – Executive Director

Charles B. Washington Branch

Natalie Struecker W. Dale Clark Main Library

Karen Pietsch

Amy Mather – Adult Services Manager

Deirdre Routt – Collection Development Manager

Amy Wenzl

Milton R. Abrahams Branch

Connect with OPL!

@omahalibrary omahalibrary.org

Service excellence, integrity, innovation, community engagement, equal & inclusive access, staff talent.

Omaha is a vital and vibrant city, with OPL as an essential catalyst, collaborator and connector.

Jody duRand – Partnership & Community Engagement Manager

Stacy Lickteig – Senior Manager of Branch Services

Jason Goossen – Technology Manager

Core Values

Branch Managers

Emily Getzschman – Marketing Manager

Wendy Robinson – Business Office Manager

Marvel Maring



Jennnifer Jazynka Benson Branch