I know this changed a quite few years ago, where non-residents of Omaha are now required to pay. Can this be brought to the public on a ballot
Thanks for asking! Everything that I tell you here should line up with information contained in our complete Library Card Policy available at https://omahalibrary.org/policies/library-card-policy/. If it doesn't, assume that the policy page is correct and I have erred, and please feel free to contact our administrative offices at 402-444-4844 for further information.
All residents of Douglas County, Nebraska are eligible for free privileges at Omaha Public Library by virtue of their residency because Douglas County and the City of Omaha both allocate funds from property taxes to pay for the library. So if you live or own property within Omaha city limits, unincorporated Douglas County or one of the municipalities entirely contained in Douglas County, I encourage you to visit any Omaha Public Library location and set up a free account. You're already paying for it!
Residents of Sarpy, Washington, and Dodge Counties (or folks from anywhere outside Douglas County) are required to pay for a non-resident membership because they are not already sharing in the cost of operating the library. The Library Board set the current non-resident fee schedule in 2010 at $25/4mos or $75/year per household, which is still quite similar to the amount that an average Douglas County household pays in taxes to support their library.
Certain other situations may qualify a person for free privileges or limited free privileges at the library - active duty servicemembers, school-age children, members of library systems that extend reciprocal privileges to our cardholders, and so on. Each of these situations has a slightly different process for verifying the person's eligibility to receive services.
Decisions related to library policies, fees, and eligibility for membership are made by the Library Board of Trustees. If you live in Douglas County and are passionate about library access and funding I encourage you to contact your elected representatives and invite you to visit a Board meeting to get a feel for how its governance process works. If you live outside the county, I encourage you to contact your councillors or aldermen to let them know that access to high-quality library service is important to you.
Thanks again for asking, and thanks for using AskOPL! Don't hesitate to reach out at 402-444-4844 or 402-444-4800 with further questions.