By Andrew Aulmer, Contributor
Walking from the Old Market intersection of 12th and Jones St. and into the KANEKO-UNO Library is like watching a black-and-white television show and then switching to a Technicolor film. The inside of the library, filled with bright colors and non-linear shapes, makes a noticeable contrast with the subdued colors and careworn appearance of the building’s exterior.
The shelves are lined with books about topics ranging from innovative film techniques to creative engineering. The KANEKO Library, which exists thanks to a partnership between Omaha-based non-profit cultural organization KANEKO and the University of Nebraska at Omaha, is geared toward inspiring creativity in all forms—from finding beauty in science to fostering imagination in the world of business.
As Creativity Library Manager Melinda Kozel, who began working at her current position this year, explains, the KANEKO Library exists in order to “further community-mindedness.” To that extent, it features six TV screens, two lounges for studying or relaxing, and free internet. Kozel describes it as “a great place to bring study groups or hold meetings.”
Because the library is funded through student fees, all UNO students and faculty members may enter free of charge, while non-UNO individuals must purchase a membership. However, there is still a catch: due to the immense value of many of the library’s materials, such as a beautiful hardcover version of Romeo and Juliet with intricate laser-cut paper art, nothing can be checked out of the library. This means that patrons must spend their time reading the materials within the building.
Fortunately, the library’s environment is, according to Kozel, “consistently quiet,” with only a handful of people coming in at a time on most days. As if peace, quiet and a collection of unique books aren’t enough, there is even a LEGO area for patrons to use if they want to find another way to relax and create at the same time.
Despite the varied features of the facility, Kozel says that she still looks forward to increasing awareness for the library.
“The idea is to encourage the creative aspects of what we do,” Kozel said. “[That] can be artistic, it can be business-related, it can be political, whatever it is.”