Window offers opportunity

Henderson’s new downtown library shares a parking lot with a Target store and several fast food restaurants, which might help explain its most unusual feature: a drive-through window.

Customers at the new James I. Gibson Library will be able pick up books and other reserved materials without ever getting out of their cars.

Library Director Tom Fay said the library is the first in the valley to offer drive-through service.

The window was put in to benefit those for whom a visit to the library is anything but quick and easy, namely parents of small children and the elderly.

“Some seniors have trouble walking,” Fay explained. “And I don’t know if you have kids, but the whole buckle-up procedure can be daunting.”

The new 20,000-square-foot library at Lake Mead Parkway and Water Street opened quietly last week and had its grand opening Wednesday. It replaces the old James I. Gibson Library, which closed its doors on May 15 after 21 years at Water Street and Basic Road.

The middle of a recession might seem like a bad time to be opening a new building, but the timing worked out pretty well for library officials.

First they arranged to sell the old library to the city for about $4 million. Then they went out to bid on the new project during what turned out to be “the cheapest time in the last decade to build a building,” Fay said.

Instead of the $4.5 million they expected to pay in construction costs, the final tally came in at less than $2.9 million.

Fay said that has freed some much-needed money for a library district that has seen its revenue drop 23 percent in the past two years.

Henderson’s six libraries are funded through a separate taxing district, created in 1956, that gets about 65 percent of its money from property taxes and the rest from sales taxes, motor vehicle taxes and various special use fees.

The falling revenue forced the district to shorten the hours at its three largest branches less than three years after it ceased operating on Sundays.

Fay said the new library opened with a collection of 110,000 books and other items and space in the building for as much as 30,000 more. The district bought enough property at the site to allow for construction of a 7,000-square-foot addition to the building if needed some day.

Probably the biggest difference between the new Gibson library and the old one is the computer lab, which features 25 computers with space for five more.

Since the recession hit, Fay said, the city’s libraries have seen an increase in the number of people using their computers to look for jobs, type up resumes and fill out on-line applications.

“Last year, we had 275,000 people using the computers in our district,” he said.

As for the drive-through service, there is no clown-shaped microphone waiting to take your order. The window is for picking up items that have been reserved in advance on-line or in person, Fay said.

The new library, at the eastern end of the Lake Mead Crossing shopping center, is open from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9:30 to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Contact reporter Henry Brean at hbrean@review or 702-383-0350.

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