The Sky is the Limit for One Library in Big Sky Country

It is no coincidence that the Missoula Public Library recently received overwhelming voter approval for a $30 million referendum for a new library; library patrons are well acquainted with the many ways the library reaches out to the community. The new library will triple its circulation from 200,000 items to around 600,000.

Given its transformative nature, the library has adopted the Libraries Transform campaign. Library Director Honore Bray said the Libraries Transform campaign is a perfect fit for her library.

The Libraries Transform Because statements played a part in the library’s push for a new building – one Because statement informed the public “Because 1 in 4 Missoulans doesn't have access to a utility called the Internet.” The new library will triple its capacity for Internet connectivity and computer use.

During the referendum campaign, the library used the Libraries Transform campaign for educational pieces that appeared in posters, including one that informed people that only 38 people can sit and use resources in the adult section of the library.

Bray said the Libraries Transform banners hanging on the ceiling and the posters clinging to the walls communicated in a direct fashion to library users. “It’s a very clean format that makes things just very clear and concise for the user.”

According to Bray, the library is something of a one-stop-shop for a variety of needs. People can send out their mail in “going postal” boxes, go to the library for passports during the evening and on weekends and even get their documents notarized for free at all hours.

But that isn’t all. Tapping into the bicycle-friendly culture of Missoula, the library, in partnership with Missoula in Motion, an initiative of Missoula’s transportation planning division, offers patrons a bicycle repair station that even includes a vending machine with tubes and other essential parts.

The library extends beyond its walls, taking to the road to offer services. Its Web on Wheels bus wanders through Missoula County, delivering mobile Internet, holding classes and offering pickup services.

The 38-foot bus travels to homes for the elderly as well as areas that are underserved, providing technology education and making available a small browsing collection.

On the library’s Facebook page, one user said, “The WOW bus is a one of a kind service. I know of nothing else that compares for providing one-on-one help to learn computers. Before I learned about the bus I had little hope because I’m deaf and can’t benefit from any traditional classes. I can’t say enough about the help I get on the bus.”

The bus isn’t the only set of wheels the library uses to serve its community. The Library on Wheels hauls its shelves to such events as the Festival of the Dead parade. It consists of a box fitted with two legs that not only contains bookshelves but also offers a flat surface that enables it to carry a 3D printer.