MISSOULA — If you're a bookworm, you know what a chore it is to move books from one house to another. Imagine moving tens of thousands of them, all at the same time.
Normally the Missoula Public Library is a nice, quiet place. That wasn't the case over the past couple of weeks, as staff pitched in to move nearly 170,000 books, videos and other materials up the block to the new library. That's the pinnacle of organization right?
"No, we have had four plans," Missoula Public Library Director Honore Bray said. "And each one of them went down the tubes with COVID. We all just came in and started working and that's happened."
Actually there was a very clever, and simple plan in place, marking everything as it came off the old shelves.
"One of our catalogers, is the one that devised how we were going to move. Because one person needed to be in charge," Bray said. "All the carts are labeled with numbers, and they leave here, they go over there, and that's how they do it, by number system.
"Photographs and art books are really heavy, so we're only putting one."
And the turn around took place in a matter of minutes.
But did it make everyone anxious as librarians because they are all about organization?
"Well, I'll tell you, things in the new building have shifted probably four times since we got there because, as people put things on the shelf and think about the workflow, and they go back and say 'Oh, this isn't going to work, we need to change it,'" Bray said. "It looks good on paper, everything looks good on paper, but when you actually get there it's a little bit different than what you thought."
But what looked great on paper with the new library design looks even better in person, from the creative wall carrying the western Montana theme from floor to floor, to the spacious, and innovative areas with the sweeping views of the city.
Bray says it's all exciting, but a little disappointing people couldn't help with the move.
"I feel bad for the community because they wanted to have a book brigade and volunteers wanted to come help us, and because of COVID we're not allowed to have anybody come in and do that kind of work with us," Bray said. "So, it's a big opportunity for the community that we missed out on."
As well as a farewell to the old library, which will be turned over to the city a few weeks from now.
Services are coming back online, but everything is still curbside and digital delivery until the new library is finished up and has a limited opening, hopefully in September.