January and February can be the bleakest months of the year. The big holidays are past and winter has overstayed its welcome, except on ski slopes and snowmobile trails.
But this January, the people of Billings gave themselves and their neighbors a magnificent antidote for cabin fever. Neither wind, no ice nor snow nor limited parking is keeping throngs of readers from the new Billings Public Library.
Patrons who have already discovered the light, comfortable and welcoming new library this month will be thrilled with its February plans: An entire month celebrating the new Billings Public Library.
The festivities begin Saturday with a formal dedication ceremony featuring library leaders, local government leaders and Billings high school choirs. The ceremony is at 1 p.m. Tours are scheduled for 11, noon and 3 p.m. Saturday.
Robin Hanel, wife of Billings Mayor Tom Hanel, Police Chief Rich St. John, Fire Chief Paul Dextras, Gazette Enjoy reporter Jaci Webb, Jeff Ewelt of ZooMontana and Montana State University football player Caleb Shreibeis will take turns reading children’s books in the Story Tower.
And, of course, there will be cake.
The grand opening planners have more goodies in store for Billings: They are bringing children’s author/illustrator Michael Berenstain to Billings on Feb. 7-8 for a series of events about the Berenstain Bears books.
On Feb. 21, adult readers will be treated to a reading by award-winning author Neil Gaiman, whose latest book is “The Ocean at the End of the Lane.”
Also in February, the library will host the showing of a documentary on the Philippines and panel discussions on freelance writing and “What is the Future of the Printed Word?”
All of these events have been organized by community volunteers working with our dedicated library staff. Furthermore, volunteers raised private donations to fund the month of grand opening events.
The Library Board, Library Foundation, Friends of the Library and the grand opening committee volunteers have supported this project since it was just a dream. Thanks to their efforts over the past several years to and thousands of Billings voters who said yes to a new building, our city has a safer, more attractive and user-friendly library with many more accommodations for folks using technology.
We encourage Billings and all Yellowstone County residents to join the celebration Saturday. Even if you miss that day of events, be sure to check out the grand opening schedule throughout February.