This institution is about to get a “cutting edge” 3-D printer.

You can edit your resume or send off emails there for free.

On Saturday, the downtown establishment is going to celebrate its presence in the community with theatrical faux gunfire and the Charleston dance.

What is it? It’s the Missoula Public Library, and by the way, it’s so full of books at 301 E. Main St., it doesn’t have room for one more volume.

“A lot of people think the library is a thing of the past, and that couldn’t be more untrue,” said Elaine Hawk, board member of the Foundation for Missoula Public Library. “There’s a lot of things that we do that are keeping us modern and relevant.”

The foundation contributes $15,000 to $20,000 a year to the public library, and it picks up funding where the county leaves off, said board president Frank Scariano. It pays for things like equipment, software and staff trainings, and it also aims to promote the wide variety of programs the library offers.

On Saturday, the foundation is putting on “Gatsby: One Night with a Classic,” an evening that celebrates F. Scott Fitzgerald’s popular novel and the library’s many offerings in Missoula County. Tickets to the event, a new twist on the foundation’s annual gala, are $35 in advance at the downtown library and $40 at the door; It will be held 7 p.m. in the Governor’s Room of the Florence Building.

“We’re trying to promote a little bit more lively event,” Scariano said. “The fundraising is important, but really, I think it’s much more important to get the word out.”

That word? “The library really is for everyone.”

Consider the following:

• “The Missoula library is the most visited library in the state of Montana,” Scariano said.

• It has six branches and plans to open one soon in Potomac.

• It holds 238,522 books. “The Missoula Public Library cannot take one new volume in without getting rid of another volume,” Scariano said. “If you want the latest Harry Potter book, we have to get rid of some other book.”

• It also offers the following: 19,929 audio items; 93 public Internet computers; 35 databases; 16,795 e-books; 383 magazines; 319 adult programs; 511 children's programs; 19 young adult programs; 43,000 square feet, including public meeting space; and 36,326 videos.


The library’s vision, programs and materials are on the cutting edge, but it resides in an old, tight shell. The heating and ventilation equipment is on its last legs, and the building wasn’t ever designed as a library in the first place, Scariano said.

“Every year, it’s a Band-Aid and some bailing twine and some duct tape to keep everything together,” Scariano said.

Eventually, the foundation will look to help construct a “green,” 21st century building, but that plan is still another eight or so years down the road. In the meantime, the foundation is going to throw the big bash Saturday to highlight the many programs of the library.

The party will feature heavy appetizers by Two Sisters and an adaptation of “The Great Gatsby” by Viscosity Theatre in an energetic rendition complete with the Charleston and some fake gunfire. It also will include prizes, an auction and elements of the Roaring ’20s, such as a disc jockey spinning on a 1920s “iPhone prototype,” a “speakeasy” cash bar, all legal, and a short lesson on “mixology” by Montgomery Distillery.

“I’m super excited about them coming,” Hawk said of the distillery. “They are going to talk about drinks of the era, the classic cocktails, and do a little talking and detailing of how to make some fancier drinks.”

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Reach Keila Szpaller at @keilaszpaller, at keila.szpaller@missoulian.com or at (406) 523-5262.

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