$30 Million East Las Vegas Library Set For Site Of Old Housing Project
A $30 million library that promises to be a “community living room” will soon begin to rise in East Las Vegas on a site where a housing project once stood.
Construction of the 40,000-square-foot library at Bonanza Road and East 28th Street is set to begin following a planned Nov. 2 groundbreaking.
When the new library opens in 2019, it will offer more than a chance to check out books. It will include a 300-seat events venue, English language and other classes, Workforce Connections job search help, and culinary and nutrition programs.
The Las Vegas-Clark County Library District estimates more than 1,000 programs will be delivered at the library each year, mostly through partnerships with outside organizations.
Executive Director of the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District Ron Heezen told KNPR's State of Nevada that libraries provide a lot more than they once did.
“People think of us as a warehouse for books or a place they can go to ask a reference question," he said, "We still do those things but that’s not exactly what libraries are about”
He said technology has changed what people need and want from a library.
To that end, the library also will provide patrons free access to Wi-Fi, computers and printers. More than 110,000 people live in a two-mile radius, and the poverty rate in the largely Hispanic area tops 30 percent — and many have no Internet service at home.
Heezen said the library talked with members of the community and community leaders to understand what was needed in that community from the library. Services and event spaces will be geared specifically for what people who live there need.
The library district acquired the property through land swaps that included the city of Las Vegas and the Southern Nevada Housing Authority.
City Councilman Bob Coffin represents the area. He said the area of the city that the library will serve is like a "donut hole" with services all around it but not within walking or bike riding distance.
“Our recent influx of population – of all races – has come to the eastside of town and yet the services are kind of lacking,” he said.
Coffin believes the library will help nearby business as well as benefit to people living in the area.
“I have no doubt that it is a real stimulus to everything and no question that everybody wants it. There’s nobody that says ‘no,’” he said.
Serafin Calvo grew up in the area where the library will be. He agrees that it will be a shot in the arm for area businesses, but he believes it will be more than that.
“One of the things that’s going to happen is this type of investment in a community is going to create pride in that community," Calvo said, "It is going to open up opportunity for the young and the old.”
Calvo became emotional when talking to KNPR's State of Nevada about what a library like the one being built in his old neighborhood would have meant to him as a child.
“Maybe if I had had more opportunity at that time maybe I would have received my masters or Ph.D. or pursued a different career,” he said.
Calvo believes the access to technology the library will provide will bridge the gap for many adults and young people in the neighborhood. From access to online job applications to being able to print out school assignments on a printer, Calvo sees it as a way to make the lives of people living there better.
“The impact and the rippling effect is way beyond our imagination,” he said.
Councilman Coffin is also personally invested in the project. He sees it as his legacy to the town he grew up in.
“If I never did anything else, this would be my moment of true pride.”
A snapshot of the housing project that the library is replacing.
Bob Coffin, Las Vegas councilman; Ron Heezen, Las Vegas-Clark County Library District executive director; Serafin Calvo, grew up in East Las Vegas