The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and Danish software company Systematic have named the new downtown Missoula Public Library, designed by MSR Design with local Montana firm A&E Design, as this year’s Public Library of the Year. The first library in the United States to receive the award, Missoula Public Library offers its citizens a truly unique place where they can meet for play, learning, and experimentation. The magnificent natural surroundings that serve as a backdrop to the library are impressively reflected in its construction and interior. Serving a multifunctional role as a library and knowledge, learning, and community center, the building houses four other organizations to create a cultural hub for gathering, interacting, and innovating. Consequently, the library could not avoid catching the jury’s attention, and Missoula Public Library can now lay claim to being the world’s best new public library.
“Missoula Public Library has it all,” says jury chair Jakob Guillois Lærkes. He continues, “The building stands out for its beautiful architecture that pays homage to the surrounding landscape, while functioning as a library with a wealth of offerings and possibilities, which also serves as a meeting place for the community. It’s a library that you would relish having in your own local area. It’s a library built for the future.”
The Public Library of the Year award is presented each year by IFLA in collaboration with Systematic, which also sponsors the $5,000 prize awarded to the winner. This year, 20 libraries from 17 different countries were in the running for the recognition. In addition to Missoula Public Library, three other library projects were shortlisted. The announcement of Missoula Public Library as the winning library was made at the IFLA World Library and Information Congress (WLIC) in Dublin, Ireland, on July 26th.
“We are delighted to be the recipients of this important award, which elevates the intersection of library service and architecture,” say Honore Bray (recently retired director of Missoula Public Library) and Traci Engel Lesneski (MSR Design CEO and principal in charge of the project). “Thank you to the jury for this honor, and congratulations to our fellow shortlisted libraries. It is inspiring to witness all the great work happening around the world.”
Photo Above: (left to right) recently retired MPL library director Honore Bray, MSR Design CEO and principal Traci Lesneski, and IFLA president Barbara Lison. Photo credit: Julie Broch-Mikkelsen