Gala Hill of Billings joined about 300 people on a hot Thursday afternoon to celebrate the groundbreaking of the new Parmly Billings Library.
“I’m in the library at least every other day to get books and videos,” Hill said, after the ceremony ended.
Hill said she can’t wait until the new building opens. Construction starts in July.
“It’s exactly what we’ve needed for a long time,” she said.
Before the groundbreaking, the Parmly Billings Library Foundation held a reception at Stockman Bank downtown for the library’s major financial and campaign supporters. Visitors had the opportunity to see drawings of the library’s interior that also included sample swatches of colors that will cover furniture on its two floors.
Marjorie Whitton, interior designer with Will Bruder & Partners, talked about the children's area, which will include purple upholstered seating around the perimeter of the room.
A variety of purple, yellow and green round and square cushions for the floor will sit on the floor for the children to enjoy.
The idea, she said, for the entire library will be to bring the contemporary look of the library's exterior to the inside of the building.
During the groundbreaking, which took place north of the present building, a human chain outlined the perimeter of the new 65,000-square-foot library.
A series of speakers addressed the crowd before they turned into a human outline of the new library's footprint. Will Bruder, from Phoenix, the project’s principal architect, offered an imaginary tour of the new building.
“You told us what you wanted, we listened to you,” Bruder said.
People sitting in chairs near the front of the crowd were sitting where the entry will be, he said. Popular collections will be on the first level, where author readings will take place, and the floor will also hold a meeting room.
Bruder then pointed to the place where the children’s area will be. The story tower with a skylight will that will be as tall as the present library, he said.
“Imagine when you bring your grandkids here for their first story hour, with the librarian in the crazy red chair, and they’re all around her on the floor and they’re looking up, at the top of a temple, and it’s their library,” Bruder said.
The second floor, where the reading room will be, will have glassed-in walls on three sides, he said, which will provide readers with a great view of the Rimrocks. The second level will also include a teen area and the Montana room, among other things.
Bill Cochran, library director for 22 years, said, “I couldn’t be more excited, I couldn’t be happier or more honored to be the person who gets to stand here and celebrate with you” the community’s decision to build the library.