We’re taking a rest day in Missoula after two days of relative easy riding. Staying with a Warm Showers host that makes his home available to bicycle tourists--last night nine cyclists were staying in the house. Such generosity is very much appreciated. Yesterday we also visited Shali Zhang, Dean of Libraries at the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library at the University of Montana. Shali and I have worked together with the International Relations Round Table (ALA) for years and it was a great treat to see her and visit the Library. She took us out to dinner at the university's all-you-can-eat dining room--and we can eat a lot, further demonstrated by our visits to the Farmers Market and a French bakery this morning. Many baked goods were purchased.
After baked goods, we rode to the Missoula Public Library First thing we saw at the library was a bicycle tool stand and a tire pump, both provided by Mountain Line, a local bus and transit service. Cycling is a big deal in Missoula, maybe due to the natural beauty of the area. Plus, the headquarters of the Adventure Cycling Association and the University of Montana are here. Library staff told us that the library has a tricycle that serves as a mobile library and is out and about today at Missoula’s three Farmers Markets. Hopefully John and I can locate it and check it out.
For programming, the library offers the Libraries Rock!! summer reading program, with activities scheduled throughout the summer and an end-of-summer party on July 31st. They have two teen Writers’ Groups, two adult book groups, and five computer classes scheduled in July. I was very impressed with their movie schedule which includes numerous film series: World Wide Cinema; Cheap Date Night; Summer Family Movies; The Great American Read Film Series; and Summer Movie Matinees.
Inside the building there is a lot of information about the new library building, ground-breaking scheduled for August, 2018 (next month!). Currently the library only has seating for 38 people while more than 1500 people visit each day. For every book added, one needs to be removed. And a very interesting statistic, one in four Missoulians do not have access to the internet. Missoula Public Library is the busiest library in the state of Montana and has over 700,000 visitors a year. In 2016, Missoula County passed a 30-million-dollar library bond, with the new building scheduled to open in 2020. The bond passed with over 60 percent of the vote, displaying amazing community support for the library.
We want to thank Stephen for taking the time to speak with us and congratulate Missoula County on their new library!