As the Flathead County commissioners work on the FY 2020 budget, I would like to bring forth reasons I feel our county Capital Improvement Plans should include Flathead County Public Library System Improvements (the main library in Kalispell and the branch in Bigfork).
Improvements are long overdue and it is time to move forward. Both of these libraries have served the people well in the past, but with the increase in population, the access to these facilities is becoming more difficult. There are many basic reasons a modern and easy access library system is important to a community.
Reasons for public libraries (with some brief reasons my family has utilized public libraries.)
- They offer free educational resources to everyone. Parents of young children enjoy the opportunity to bring children to story time, introducing them to a bigger and wider world in which we live. The professional librarians are always there to help.
- They are safe places and help underserved populations. We learn we don’t always have to have money in our pocket to learn and enjoy resources to help us become better citizens.
- They help boost local economies. Classes are available in public libraries when spaces are in their facility for literacy, job interviewing and job application help, access to computers, etc. It is a great place to volunteer, helping our tax dollars double and triple their power.
- They make communities richer through cultural activities and everyday ways of improving lives through classes. The current basement meeting room at the main library is no longer adequate and is often not available when needed.
- They help connect communities. The communication through the branch libraries is a simple way to spread helpful news items.
- Most important! A free society will remain free if its libraries are public and free to everyone. They preserve history and the truth.
I am asking the county commissioners to reconsider their decision concerning the main library in Kalispell and the branch library in Bigfork. As I look at the benefits the improvements for the Agency and on Aging have brought to the county and our aging population that are now in place here in Kalispell, Flathead County can now move forward to reach out in the area of our public libraries. The benefits will reach all ages in our population. The “Imagine If” program is ready to expand. Let’s make it possible by including the main library in Kalispell and the branch in Bigfork in the Capital Improvement Plan in the FY 2020 budget.