The site for the new public library is prepared and waiting for the groundbreaking in late July or early August, according to Karl Olson with the Foundation for the Missoula Public Library.

Olson described what will be in the four-story library.

“On the main floor, people can come in and check out things that are very hot,” said Olson. “They can get coffee on that level, they can go to the Friends of the Library Used Bookstore, and they can use MCAT’s media resources on that level, as well as many other things on that level. The second level is devoted to children and families, and that’s where our collaboration with Families First Children’s Museum and Spectrum Discovery Center really take center stage, as well as the Children’s Library. On the third level is your traditional library stacks, with fiction and non-fiction, we’ll have a work hub up there, our periodicals and our reference desk and the librarians will be at work there, as well.”

Olson said the fourth floor will be set aside for the many community groups who need the library as a meeting place.

“For every group that was able to use one of our present meeting rooms, we probably turned two others away,” he said. “We’ll have an expanded meeting space up there with a number of different configurations for nonprofit groups to use and for large events.”

Missoula voters passed a $30 million bond issue to fund the new library which carries an overall price tag of $36.5 million, so the Foundation of the Public Library has been attempting to raise the other $6.5 million, but they have come up approximately $500,000 short. The Missoula Redevelopment Agency has committed to providing those funds.

MRA Director Ellen Buchanan said the agency was not able to provide the full amount all at once.

“We don’t have the resources available to just write them a $500,000 check in that district,” said Buchanan. “What was proposed was that we would do $200,000 of unencumbered cash in the district, and then do the balance over a period of years when resources are available, if they are available.”

Buchanan explained how the balance would be paid to benefit the new library.

“The commitment was to take the coverage once it was available, and take any annual payments on that pledge from that coverage, so that we’re not tying up new revenues that are coming into the district that can be used for other projects,” she said.

Olson said officials are crunching numbers and securing prices on materials along with other behind the scenes work to prepare for construction to begin on the 400 block of East Main, just one block east of the present library.

They hope for a grand opening by early 2020.


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