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Crystal Video is closing, but part of it will live on at the Missoula Public Library.

A day before putting his entire 13,000-movie library on sale to the public, Crystal owner Jace Laakso made a phone call to the library staff.

"Wanna get first shot?" was his message.

Boy, did they.

More than 260 movies later, the library's buyers walked out of the Crystal on Thursday loaded to the gills with new flicks, foreign and independent films that will be available to the public by midsummer.

"It was a little overwhelming," said Sasa Vesovic, a library assistant who runs the library's "Cheap Date Night" once a month.

It would be overwhelming. More than 13,000 films to choose from, and a wad of cash to spend?

Once the phone call from Laakso came, the library scrounged for money, but found it had none as its fiscal year is wrapping up this month.

That's when Friends of the Library, a community nonprofit, stepped forward with some cash.

And that meant that Vesovic and two other library workers could spend Thursday shopping the rich bounty of Crystal Video's ample selection of hard-to-find and even out-of-print films.

"We really want to thank Jace," said Vesovic. "It was just a wonderful opportunity to preserve the culture of high-quality films. This is a way for (Crystal Video's) legacy to continue."

It's going to take a while to catalog all the library's new movies, but they should be available to rent by sometime in July. The new selection will also be a new source for the library's free public showing of movies once a month.

Meanwhile, the sale of all movies, furniture and fixtures from Crystal Video continues Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m., and all next weekend.

And the movies you can't buy there? You'll find them at the public library.

"This is," said Vesovic, "a happy ending to a sad story."

Reporter Jamie Kelly can be reached at 523-5254 or at


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