North Las Vegas plans to move its oldest library to new City Hall

North Las Vegas will look to shutter the city’s oldest library later this summer, moving three library employees and thousands of books across the street to a new “storefront” location at the southwest corner of City Hall.

More than half of the branch’s soft and hardcover books will have to be sold, donated or relocated as part of the downtown library’s long-planned move. As many as three librarians will be transferred to City Hall.

Officials hope to complete the library exodus by the end of August.

Library Director Forrest Lewis expects the move to save the city thousands of dollars in annual maintenance and operating costs. He couldn’t say how much relocation costs might hurt the library district’s already fragile bottom line.

The most important thing, he said, is that it will save a library and keep long-threatened jobs off the chopping block.

“The main focus (of the move) is going to be our computer center and job help for families,” Lewis said Thursday. “There are a lot of residents in that downtown area who could use that help.”

The city has set aside 1,500 square feet of first-floor office space to hold the old library’s “high interest” titles and children’s books. The same amount of space will be used for the branch’s computers.

Services at the city’s two other library branches could see a boost as a result of the move, one Lewis said should see the addition of at least one extra librarian to assist those who frequent the district’s Alexander or Aliante locations.

“The whole purpose is the maintenance of services,” the first-year director said.

“When I first came on board we were looking at maybe closing two of three branches, but from a library perspective, our focus was always maintaining services and making sure we kept a library in (the downtown) area.”

The soon-to-be mothballed library building at 2300 Civic Center Drive is planned to become the city Police Department’s new evidence vault, perhaps as soon as next year.

Homeless residents long have used the decades-old branch as a place to cool off. It remained unclear whether they will be able to use the new City Hall library for the same purpose.

Library district board member Vernie Borgersen, while resigned to the old downtown branch’s fate, is still a little sad to hear its swan song.

“It hurts everybody, but it’s the second best option to closing the library completely and I think things are going to start to get better soon,” she said.

Lewis couldn’t say whether cost savings associated with the move were included in the library district’s fiscal 2015 budget, which is set to take effect next week.

Contact James DeHaven at jdehaven@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3839. Follow @JamesDeHaven on Twitter.