The North Las Vegas Library District plans to build a downtown library by early 2021 and is extending Alexander Library’s days of operation.
The library district, which has three branches, was hit hard by the economic recession about a decade ago and cut jobs and hours. Now, it’s working to restore services.
As of Oct. 28, 10-year-old Alexander Library is open six days a week — up from four.
“Man, we’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback from people walking in,” branch manager Garett Dacay said Oct. 31.
In the past, residents would have to go to a branch farther away from their home when the library was closed, he said.
From Alexander Library, it’s about 4 1/2 miles to North Las Vegas Library and about five miles to the Aliante Library.
During the recession, North Las Vegas kept one library branch open six days a week, and Aliante was the obvious choice because it’s the busiest branch, North Las Vegas spokeswoman Sandy Lopez said.
The library also has four new employees, Dacay said, and with that staffing level, there’s an opportunity to do community outreach such as going to schools.
As for the new downtown library, construction may move forward within the next few months, said Forrest Lewis, district director.
The new branch will be an approximately 10,000-square-foot facility in the area of Lake Mead Boulevard and Fifth Street, he said. An existing building on site that’s about 7,000 square feet will be remodeled and expanded, and a park will eventually be nearby, at Williams Avenue and White Street.
The library project is estimated to cost about $3 million and will be paid for using Community Development Block Grant funding.
The new facility will replace the downtown library, which has been temporarily at City Hall since 2014.
Once the space is vacant, it will be used for city services or may be leased to a tenant, Lopez said.
Before 2014, the downtown library was in a two-story building — now being used by the North Las Vegas Police Department — built in the 1960s. To keep that facility functional and open to the public, “we were looking at some very expensive renovations,” Lewis said.
And with reduced staffing, he said, “it was difficult to manage that large of a building.”
Hit hard during the recession
The North Las Vegas Library District lost about half its budget during the recession and saw its work force drop from 38 to 17 employees, Lewis said. Now, the library district has 24 employees, including part-time workers.
“During the recession, our library — along with the city and most places in the valley — were hit very hard,” Lewis said.
The library district pushed to keep all three branches open and provide some level of service, Lewis said. To make that happen, staff was shared between a couple of library branches.
Dacay — who’s in his second year as Alexander Library’s branch manager — has been a library district employee since 2001, starting as a part-time circulation assistant. When he started, there was only one North Las Vegas library branch.
“I’ve kind of seen almost every element the library district has to offer,” he said.
The recession had a large impact on the library district, Dacay said, adding, “I had to watch a lot of good friends and employees leave our district.”
At one point, the financial situation in North Las Vegas led city officials to consider receivership, the state’s alternative to municipal bankruptcy.
But things improved. In June, Moody’s Investors Service announced it boosted North Las Vegas’ credit rating up two notches, to A2, which is considered upper-medium grade, the company said, and means lower interest payments on bonds. At one point, the city had junk bond status.
Now, the North Las Vegas Library District has expanded services, Lewis said, thanks to city efforts and the nonprofit Friends of the North Las Vegas Library District. That includes more technology offerings available to the public, online services such as databases, and career services through Workforce Connections.
- North Las Vegas Library, 2250 Las Vegas Boulevard North: 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, closed Friday through Sunday.
- Aliante Library, 2400 W. Deer Springs Way: 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed Sunday.
- Alexander Library, 1755 W. Alexander Road: 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed Sunday.