County Libraries Rebranded with New Name, Services

By Beacon Staff

The Flathead County Library System is ready to unveil its new rebranding strategy on Jan. 13, including a name change and the decision to stop FCLS fines for late materials.

Kim Crowley, the FCLS director, said the brand revamp has been in the works for over a year, when the Flathead County Library Foundation provided $40,000 for the project.

The county libraries, which are located in Kalispell, Bigfork, Marion and Columbia Falls, will now be known as the ImagineIF Libraries. The libraries will still be a department of Flathead County.

The name ImagineIF embodies the libraries’ goals of providing a platform for expanding boundaries and realizing new goals and dreams, Crowley said. Most people view the library as a community gathering space, and the new, experienced-based approach to the libraries should only enhance that.

“If we are already (a community space), we’re making it a lot more fun,” Crowley said.

Rebranding the libraries is a way to keep up with the needs of clients and the changing times. The changes will be manifest not only in the libraries’ names, but also in programming, physical spaces, services and attitude.

One major change is a shift away from a punitive atmosphere, library assistant director Connie Behe said.

“We will no longer be charging fines,” Behe said.

Charging fines has long been a way for the library to get its materials back, the staff acknowledged, but it has become costly and relatively ineffective. Crowley said the library system usually brings in between $8,000 and $10,000 each year in fines, but that number is dwarfed when compared to the cost of having staff deal with lines of people waiting to pay their 10-cent charges.

Fines weren’t even included in the budgeting process this year, Crowley said.

Instead, the library staff will be out interacting with the clients more, continuing to build relationships and make the library more than just a warehouse for books.

Another part of the rebranding – which was designed by Ricochet Ideas, a marketing company out of Denver – is the hiring of a new outreach and programming librarian, Megan Glidden.

Glidden said the library system would be embracing new activities, such as building chicken coops and then auctioning them off, as a way to provide services to the community outside of books and media.

Image courtesy ImagineIF Libraries

The launch week celebrating the rebranding, Jan. 13-18, will include daily events, such as live music, balloon storytime for the preschoolers, family gaming day and launch parties at library locations throughout the valley.

On Jan. 15 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., ImagineIF Columbia Falls will party with live music by Smart Alex, along with face painting, a photo booth, paper airplanes, popcorn and hot cocoa.

Jan. 15 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., the Jesse Maw Duo will play at ImagineIF Bigfork, along with a photo shoot.

And on Jan. 17, ImagineIF Kalispell will kick off its launch party from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., featuring the Can’t Hardly Playboys, face painting, a photo booth, a hot cocoa station, paper airplanes, and food from D&T BBQ and Cowgirl Coffee.

Library cardholders will also be asked to exchange their old cards for new ones, which come in four different designs. Turning in an old library card will also earn the cardholder a new tote bag.

The warmer seasons will also see the introduction of the Book Bike, which will offer library services and a selection of books at outdoor community events, such as events in Depot Park and the farmers markets.

The library foundation’s $40,000 paid for the marketing consultants, the new signage, and the rest of the changes, Crowley said. Behe noted that if the library didn’t make a change to how it approached the community, it would likely fall behind or to the wayside.

Crowley said the idea behind ImagineIF started with the archetype of the dreamer and the explorer, and changing the way the library engages with the community and the services it offers will hopefully make it a launching pad for the dreamers and explorers here in the valley.

“We’re always ready to find new ways to do things,” Crowley said.