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July 29, 2014

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development:

Henderson officials break ground on $2.6 million library

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Mona Shield Payne/Special to the Sun

Henderson Libraries Executive Director Tom Fay, center, joins distinguished guests and contractors in breaking ground Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2009, on the 19,919-square-foot new James I. Gibson Library located at Lake Mead Parkway and Water Street.

Henderson Library Groundbreaking

Henderson Libraries Executive Director Tom Fay, center, joins distinguished guests and contractors in breaking ground Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2009, on the 19,919-square-foot new James I. Gibson Library located at Lake Mead Parkway and Water Street.
Launch slideshow »

New library

Beyond the Sun

In the shadow of the industrial plants that spawned Henderson, dignitaries and officials from the Henderson Libraries turned the first shovels of dust and rocks this morning to launch construction of a new downtown library branch.

The James I. Gibson branch — named for the former resident and state senator who was instrumental in obtaining funding for the branch’s current building next to Henderson City Hall — is expected to move next April from its current site to the new one on Water Street just north of Lake Mead Parkway.

The new site will increase the branch’s square footage by 5,000 to a total just shy of 20,000 square feet, which will allow for a 25-station computer lab, classrooms and increased parking. The new branch will also offer a first for Southern Nevada — a drive-through service that will allow patrons to reserve materials online and collect them at a pick-up window.

Henderson Libraries Executive Director Tom Fay said the new location, just a mile north of the current location, will also allow the branch to be more visible to new residents as residential developments around the downtown area are completed in the coming years.

“This allows us to have a bigger, better library down where more people will see us,” Fay said.

The new branch has a price tag of about $2.6 million, which is roughly $2 million less than what the district estimated when it first came up with the idea a couple of years ago. Fay said the lower price tag was made possible by lower construction costs brought on by the recession — the same recession, he said, that has pushed library usage to unprecedented levels and necessitated a bigger facility.

“A lot of people ask, ‘Why a library right now, in the worst economy since the 1930s?’,” Fay said. “I say, why not? If you look at the situation we’re in today, people are using libraries more than they have in the last 25-30 years, so the need is definitely there, and we’ll be there to meet it.”

Fay said the library district took 62 years, from 1944 to 2006, to reach annual circulation levels of 1 million, and that the district is expected to hit 2 million by 2011.

“We are here to help this community get through this struggle and come out of this economy over the next few years,” he said.

Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen said the new branch will help the city meet the educational and recreational needs of residents at a time when free services are the only ones that many families can afford.

“Communities are judged by the amenities and opportunities they provide to residents,” Hafen said. “Our residents have always been served by an excellent parks and recreation program, by excellent fire and police services, and now they’ll have access to an even better library.”

Though the Henderson Libraries have a close working relationship with the city of Henderson — the city agreed to purchase the existing Gibson branch, which allowed the district to have the money for a new facility — the two are separate entities. The library district is funded by a separate portion of property taxes, and is administered by Fay and a board of trustees.

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