NewsMissoula County


Departing Missoula Library director thanks community for support

MPLHonoreBray .jpg
Posted at 6:31 PM, Apr 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-14 10:07:49-04

MISSOULA - Honore Bray was in charge of Missoula's books for 17 years.

Now, the departing Missoula Library director is just hoping to have a little quiet reading time to herself.

"This is the best community for libraries in the world," Bray said with no hesitation. "They're so supportive. They always have been from the very first mill levy that was run, and then I was here for the second one and it passed with great support and then the bond issue. The people are amazing. And now they have this great building that they can spend the rest of their lives in."

There was a time when the future of the Missoula Public Library seemed threatened. Hampered by an aging, cramped facility, and trends, where it seemed like traditional reading, might become a relic of the past.

But Bray thanks a dedicated staff, determined trustees, and a hard-working Library Foundation for convincing voters to go "all in", not just for a new library, but for a facility that's become a bustling community center in less than a year.

She says that transition, fantastic in its completion, didn't come without pressure. And a few disappointments.

"It was really disappointing to have to wait a year to have to move, basically to have the public come into the building. So we were a year late. But when we got to let everybody through the doors it's been really a great place. And it's so fun to walk around the building and watch people using it as we planned that they would use it."

Circulation is expected to rebound this year, back to more than a million volumes per year, plus thousands for surrounding communities; and a sense of more complete learning.

"We still get 40 crates of books from other communities every day, and we send 40 crates out. So our readers are just as strong reading books as they are doing anything else," Bray says. "And the beauty of this building is people can come and they can look at an art exhibit or a science experiment or whatever and then go find the books that go with it and take it home and continue the experience at home.:

Now, the former school teacher who led the charge behind the transition is looking for a little quiet time herself.

"Yeah, I might get to read now," Bray chuckles. "I haven't done very much of that for the last couple of years. It's been more planning and doing projects for the building. But it might be nice to pick up a book and be able to read it without interruption."