NewsMissoula County


New Missoula Library: "the soul of this place"

Posted at 10:07 AM, Jul 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-15 12:17:22-04

MISSOULA — It overcame a long-shot ballot measure, financial obstacles, and even the pandemic. But now the new Missoula Public Library is a "forever fixture" of the Garden City.

Wednesday's ribbon-cutting showed all the aspects of Missoula's culture.

"But it is not just the mortar, it's not just the concrete, the glass, the walls that make this facility. It is infrastructure of democracy. It is infrastructure of the soul of this place," commented Missoula County Commissioner Dave Strohmaier.


"But to understand, that from the day each and every one of us -- we're born; education started. To learn. To understand" noted Selis Quilspe Culture Committee member Tony Incashola.

But understanding that a new library was the path to future learning was tough for some Missoulians, who questioned the expense -- and even the need for a library in this day and age.

So it took a cooperative effort to not just build a library, but a center fulfilling multiple roles -- and the beyond generous donations of everyone from little kids to business benefactors.

"There are lots of folks who checked the box on a ballot a number of years ago, electing to tax themselves to support this building, and what happens in this building, with the full knowledge that they might never step in it. And they did that because they believe in people and place. They believe that together we can accomplish much." - Missoula Mayor John Engen

"Once that $5 million commitment got put in the ballot issue, and we knew we couldn't spend the 30 if we didn't raise the five, it was more than an act of faith. It was mandatory," said Mae Nan Ellingson with the Foundation for the Missoula Public Library.

"This new space has been quite a long journey. And one we knew that would take a lot of effort from our entire community," said Missoula Public Library Trustee Chair Audra Loyal. "But little did we know that the extra bundle of difficulties would be thrown at us by the COVID-19 pandemic."

Missoula's "book lady", Barbara Theroux, admits it was hard to fathom the joy when that bond effort was launched.


"No. I mean I knew I live in a wonderful community. But working with the architects, working with the contractors, the building is amazing. And Missoula is just enthralled with it. And I'm so excited! I'm so ready to celebrate!"

Everyone was; from Monte's hijinks to young storytellers and little scientists, or those that just wanted to curl up with a good book in one of the many corners.

What's amazing about the grand opening today was that since the first time when the building was occupied nearly a year ago every nook and cranny of this amazing facility is being utilized.

"The transition couldn't have happened more smoothly I feel like, just because of the dedication of the staff," Loyal said. "And, kudos to you guys. You're awesome. You're rock stars and I'm so proud of you." - Audra Loyal.

The new Missoula Public Library is now operating from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is closed on Sundays.