Whitefish Library Joins Book Partnership

By Beacon Staff

Books will once again be loaded into crates and onto buses as part of a partnership between the Whitefish Community Library and the state’s largest book-sharing program.

Earlier this year, the Whitefish library split from the Flathead County Library System to become its own community library. The divorce was over a difference in vision, according to Whitefish Community Library Director Joey Kositzky. Because of the split, the library was no longer part of the Montana Shared Catalog or a book-exchange program between libraries across the state.

“There was a lot of philosophical differences between what the community wanted to see in the library (and the county),” she said. “The community built this library and they have a lot invested in it.”

After the split from the county system, the Whitefish library independently joined the Montana Shared Catalog, which organizes books and resources across the state. Once it rejoined, the library applied to be part of a statewide book exchange in early July. A month and a half later it was accepted.

“For small libraries like us, it opens us up to 900,000 more items,” Kositzky said. “The benefit is that with a Whitefish library card (someone) can go to the catalog, browse it and if there’s an item in Missoula, they can put a hold on it and it will get sent to Whitefish.”

Anne Shaw Moran, vice chair of the library board, said joining the book-sharing system was a necessary step for the newly independent library.

“This was a very big step in our effort to provide good service to Whitefish Community Library patrons,” she said. “We wanted to be sure to offer the same services.”

When the library initially split from the county system, it temporarily closed and when it reopened there was a drop in visitors, Kositzky said. Before the split, the library had 7,000 to 8,000 patrons every month. The first month it reopened that number was down to 5,000. Last month, 6,500 people walked through the doors.

“Now that we’ve opened again, people are coming back in,” she said.

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