The Missoula Public Library is quite literally the best in the world.

That’s according to the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions which recently named the library the winner of its Public Library of the Year award on July 26.

We spoke with the Missoula Public Library Executive Director Slaven Lee, who described the international competition.

“One was a library in Saudi Arabia in which the outside of the library looks like a huge sort of oblong boulder providing a really striking presence,” said Lee. “There was also a library in Latvia and then a library in Denmark.”

Lee attributed the award to the Missoula Public Library’s designers.

Credit: Missoula Public Library
Credit: Missoula Public Library

“The designers and community partners, the library staff, and former director Honore Bray did a great job of representing the natural landscape of Missoula so that we have this stunning building in downtown Missoula,” she said. “Because of various design features, it really has become part of the landscape, which I think is really powerful and resonates with people.”

She said the library was definitely a community effort.

“I just feel like this is very representative of the community and is very clearly something that was a co-creation effort, so it's not it's not something that people didn't get to participate in,” she said. “People really had a say in what this building ended up looking like, and I think that that makes it really appreciated by folks.”

Credit: Missoula Public Library
Credit: Missoula Public Library

Lee said the community is definitely taking advantage of all the Missoula Public Library has to offer.

“I think we have something like 1,200 visitors, visitors a day,” she said. “This building is very vibrant. It's really active. There are all sorts of different things going on throughout the day. If you come here during the summer when there are summer camps, there are usually three or so different summer camps going on and the kids are just bouncing around from different areas in the library for different activities, so that makes it a really engaging space and absolutely really well used.”

The Public Library of the Year award is presented each year by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions.

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