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Guest column

'Bookraiser' to help stock new Missoula Public Library's shelves

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New Missoula Public Library

An architectural rendering of the new Missoula Public Library.

Exciting things are happening in Missoula these days! Downtown is humming with activity, and your Missoula Public Library is at the heart of all of it.

As we write, Missoula County fifth graders are following an annual tradition of visiting the Missoula Art Museum and MPL, and getting their first library cards. Patrons are paying off overdue fines with items for the Missoula Food Bank. The library will soon host carolers, a gift wrapping kiosk and a special visitor from the North Pole for Storytime. And MPL just said farewell to Hung Phung, a librarian from Hanoi who studied our community’s love for literature, literacy and sharing.

Missoulians will also notice that next door, the new building is rising up from the lot. Slabs have been poured, windows installed and a grand staircase suspends across all five levels. But while construction is well under way and on track for a grand opening in the summer of 2020, we still have $350,000 to raise to fill the new library with a fresh and expanded collection of books, literacy resources and learning tools. These resources are at the heart of MPL’s mission.

We now turn to you — fellow Missoulians, library users and community advocates — to help with the final sprint to fund these new materials: we’re calling it a “Bookraiser.” The Missoula Pubic Library is the busiest in the state, with 60,000 library card holders, 1500 visitors a day and an annual circulation of more than a million items. While statistics show how well-loved your public library is, projections indicate that an expanded building will be even more so.

Time is of the essence: an Opening Day collection for the new building must be ordered by Jan. 1. This $350,000 fundraiser is the final phase of a $6,250,000 private funding goal the Library Foundation committed to complement the $30 million voter-approved bond. In addition to taxpayer support, 400 individuals, families and businesses have demonstrated their belief in a state-of-the-art, 21st century library-museum complex for Missoula by making their contributions.

Donors interested in having a dedicated tile on the new building’s Donor Wall should not delay. A dedicated tile is a wonderful way to remember a loved one, show family support, surprise grandchildren or profess a love of books. Contact the library before the end of the year to sponsor a tile and register a dedication. Information about Donor Wall tiles is available at MPL’s main service desk, and also at our online giving portal: www.missoulapubliclibrary.org/grow.

We need support from all quarters and at all levels. Please join us and “make your mark” on this once-in-a-lifetime project. We’re certain you won’t regret your participation! The new Missoula Public Library is the most significant public project Missoula will likely see for decades, an iconic destination for learning and sharing, and something our community will take immense pride in. Your gift today, big or small, will foster quality of Missoula life for generations to come.

This opinion is signed by Barbara Berens, chair of the Missoula Public Library Board of Trustees; Mae Nan Ellingson and Frank Scariano, co-chairs of the Foundation for MPL Capital Campaign; and Barbara Theroux, chair of Friends of Missoula Public Library. 

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