Missoula Public Library’s new downtown library is the first library in the United States to be named Public Library of the Year by IFLA in collaboration with Systematic. The new building houses four other community organizations (MCAT, Families First Learning Lab, the University of Montana SpectrUM Discovery Area, and the University of Montana Living Lab) to create a library, museum, and science and community center that blends Missoula’s rich heritage with world-class innovations all under one roof.
The design process involved an intensive week-long visioning session with leadership from the library and partner organizations to establish project goals and guiding principles. The main floor offers a marketplace with a cafe, retail store, new library materials, and the audiovisual collection; a makerspace; MCAT’s high tech production studio, equipment check-out services, and sound booths; a teens’ area; and the University of Montana Living Lab. Focused on children, families, and play, the second floor houses the Hank and Nancy Harrington Children’s Library, Families First Learning Lab, University of Montana SpectrUM Disovery Area, and a mix of collaborative learning spaces shared by the partner organizations. The third floor includes a demonstration kitchen, reference services, fiction and nonfiction collections, a business center, and genealogy center. The top floor provides spaces for public engagement and gathering and access to an exterior patio.
“Missoula Public Library has it all. 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. It’s a library that you would relish having in your own local area. It’s a library built for the future.”