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‘A great safe space’: West Las Vegas Library turns 50 as community celebrates

While its new facility remains in the works, the long-storied West Las Vegas Library celebrated its half-century existence Wednesday night.

The public library — initially a small “storefront” building on D Street — lives on in its second iteration near Martin Luther King and Lake Mead boulevards.

The ’70s theme for the evening bash was fitting, given that the library first opened in 1973.

Festivities included food, music, trivia and photo opportunities for those who showed up in ’70s attire.

Lenika Coleman, branch manager for the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District facility, described the celebration as a “special moment.”

“For me, it’s like going full circle,” Coleman said, adding that she grew up in the predominantly Black neighborhood and would visit the branch throughout her childhood. “It’s just been a great spot and a great safe space for youth to come to.”

And it’s also a welcoming space for adults, who visit the branch to use its computer lab and a wide-array of resources, such as employment aid, Coleman noted during a phone interview early Wednesday.

“It’s just been part of the neighborhood,” she said.

Following an effort spearheaded by community advocates, including prominent activist Ruby Duncan, the first library opened in Dec. 2, 1973, according to information on the district’s website.

“The first library established on the Historic Westside was located in a mere storefront on D Street to serve the families of African American Hoover Dam migrant workers,” library officials wrote on its website. “The concept of a library in the predominately black neighborhood was unheard of.”

The library moved to 951 W. Lake Mead Blvd. in 1988, expanding a few years later to include a performing arts theater.

The facility turned 50 in December. But instead of celebrating its half-century earlier, district officials in February hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the state-of-the-art facility opening nearby in the fall of 2025, tentatively, Coleman noted.

That library — designed to be more than double the size of the current branch — will be located at 1861 N. Martin Luther King Blvd.

Contact Ricardo Torres-Cortez at rtorres@reviewjournal.com.

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