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Ever wonder the story behind the stories that fill Missoula Public Library? The library's history provides a glimpse into the culture of our times, the changes in Missoula's community, and of course the ever-advancing information and technology we have at our fingertips. So we're making a special effort to archive the memories of our community in historic scrapbooks.

Flipping through the volumes we have compiled thus far could be one of the most enjoyable ways to spend a lazy summer afternoon. History buffs can peruse memories of library events, collection additions, and patrons. One scrapbook even has actual receipts from book purchases in 1894 - the year the library first opened its doors.

A quick library history lesson: The library was first started by 14 members of the Ladies' Reading Circle in 1882. The ladies pooled their money and purchased a small collection of books. Eleven years later, Missoula voters passed an ordinance to establish a free public library, which opened its doors on Higgins Avenue in 1894. That year, the library acquired 811 books. Today, the library owns more than 246,000 items, with 60,000 card holders checking out more than 70,000 items every month.

But the library is more than statistics, and that's where the scrapbooks come in, preserving smiles of happy readers (and staff) through the years. As we collect present-day memories, we'll be digitally archiving photos and materials. Times may have changed, but there's one thing Missoulians have in common no matter when they lived here - their love of the library. Come see the archives in our Audra Browman Montana Room reference collection. They're worth the trip.

For more information on the library, assistance in research, or account questions, contact the library at 721-BOOK or visit us online at

Celebrate creative writers

Missoula Public Library invites you to celebrate creative writing on Sunday at 2 p.m. with a special reception for those who entered our second annual Writing Contest. Winners of the contest's fiction and nonfiction prizes in a variety of age divisions will be announced with prizes and certificates awarded, and first-place winners will have an opportunity to read their entries.

The library thanks our local judges who represent professional writers, editors, teachers, and book sellers. The library will compile and archive a collection of all entries received so everybody can enjoy our local talent. Stop by and see last year's book in our Montana collection.

Special thanks to contest sponsors Altrusa International Inc. of Missoula, Missoula Kiwanis and P.E.O. Chapter BQ.

We Have It: staff reviews

"Elsewhere," by Gabrielle Zevin (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2005). Find it at: Y ZEVIN (young adult fiction).

Have you ever wondered what happens when you die? Gabrielle Zevin has and she has written a novel for teens that takes us into the afterlife. At the start of the book we meet Liz Hall as she wakes in her cot aboard an ocean liner. We learn that she has died in a hit and run accident and she is on her way to Elsewhere. It takes Liz a little longer to figure out what is going on and she has a very hard time accepting that she has died. She had so much to live for. She was looking forward to so many things. Slowly Liz learns that Elsewhere has a lot to offer her as well, but there are a lot of ups and downs on her journey to acceptance.

This quiet, uplifting book will make you think and stretch your imagination.

Reviewed by Pam Harrington

Hot happenings

Here's a sampling of some of the great programs coming up at Missoula Public Library. All programs are free. There's more on our events calendar at www.


org. If anyone attending a program needs special assistance, please provide advance notice by calling 721-BOOK (2665).

Scribbles Writers Group. Scribbles, a creative writers group for grades 7-9, will meet Thursday, April 15, at 4 p.m. Share your writing and take part in creativity exercises.

Teen Writers Group. Writers grades 10-12 are invited to join this group, meeting every Friday, 3:30-5:30 p.m.

Cheap Date Night. Enjoy a free big screen showing of a new release movie Friday, May 21 at 7 p.m. See our website for movie titles at or our Facebook page. Doors open at 6:45 p.m. and close at 7:15 p.m. for this after-hours event. Enter from the parking lot side of the building. Cheap Date Night offers free movies at the library every third Friday of the month.

Children's librarian Joyce Doyle can be reached at 258-3851 or at


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