The Missoula Public Library is in rarefied company, now that it’s in the running for a major international design award.

KGVO News recently spoke to Public Relations Specialist Karl Olson with the Missoula Public Library about the major distinction.

“We have been nominated for Public Library of the Year by the International Federation of Library Associations,” said Olson. “Our architects at MSR put in that application for this award, and we will find out at the Federation's annual global event at the end of July if we win.”

Olson identified the other finalists for the award from all over the world.

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“We're on the shortlist with four other public libraries,” he said. One is in Latvia; another is in Denmark and a third is in Saudi Arabia, so we're in pretty incredible and competitive company.”

Olson described why he believes the Missoula Public Library has received such an honor to be nominated as one of the world’s best library designs.

“What I think has floated us to the top is our approach to literacy and collaboration, which is truly unique in our region and possibly in the entire country,” he said. “We share our library space with three or four other organizations who share our mission, and that includes the Spectrum Discovery area, Families First Learning Lab, and MCAT  (Missoula Community Access Television) is in our building. We have the Youth Living Lab here and soon we'll be unveiling the DNA Climbing projects.”

Credit: Missoula Public Library
Credit: Missoula Public Library

Olson said the major difference between the Missoula Public Library and the others is the funding mechanism.

“Among the libraries that are on this shortlist for the award, we're probably the only one that features the public-private partnership in funding,” he said. “In other countries, governments fully fund those libraries, for better or worse. However, we have a partnership here that has made it the incredible space that it is and something that I think our entire community can consider as a point of pride.”

Minneapolis-based MSR Design-led MPL’s project design in partnership with local architecture firm A&E.

Credit: Missoula Public Library
Credit: Missoula Public Library

A press release from the library stated: ‘Considerations for award eligibility include: the building design’s interaction with local culture, landscape, and community connections; architectural logistics and functionality; flexibility and synergy of programmatic spaces; energy efficiency and sustainability; approaches to learning diversity and social mobility; and building-wide digital integration and access.’

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