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Last week while construction crews set concrete footings studded with re-bar outside, the Library Board met inside the old building and kicked off a project intended to shape and share the vision for the new library.

The library’s strategic plan includes this vision statement:

Through the services provided by Parmly Billings Library, Billings and Yellowstone County residents will:

  • Experience the library as a focus of community life for people to gather and connect with each other to build a strong, sustainable and livable community.
  • Acquire the skills and information they need to succeed at school, at work and in their personal lives.
  • Discover responsive, dynamic and high-quality services and programs that enlighten, inspire and entertain.
  • Benefit from reading, viewing and listening materials and programs that stimulate their thinking, enhance knowledge of the world, and enrich their leisure time.
  • Enjoy a high level of access to electronic information resources.
  • Develop the technological, information seeking and information evaluation skills needed in an increasingly complex world.
  • Utilize fully the library’s resources and services and encourage others to do so as well.
  • Enjoy relaxing and welcoming spaces that are a source of local pride and an essential public resource.
  • Discover a catalyst for lifelong habits of learning, self-improvement and self-expression.
  • Find a bridge over the digital divide for those lacking access to technology.
  • Find a partner in building the community’s future.
  • Develop the love and habit of reading in children from the earliest possible moment.
  • Interact with the library, the community and the world through the use of digital communications and dynamic social media.

For the vision to be fully realized, it must be effectively communicated. So the library is starting a “rebranding” project to consider whether the name Parmly Billings Library should be changed to better reflect what the new public library is and does. Library leaders want to develop much more than a new logo for the new library.

Meanwhile, the Library Board notified the Library Foundation that naming rights for the new library itself aren’t for sale. However, areas of the new building are available for naming by large donors.

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Library Board Chairwoman Shari Nault said the rebranding project must answer questions such as: Who do our users and nonusers think we are? Who do we want to become? What can we deliver?

The library must involve the community in defining what the library is and will be. We call on the library leaders to tap community resources as much as possible for the rebranding project. Volunteers, students of all ages, Montana State University Billings and Rocky Mountain College faculty and local businesses can help create the best plan. Furthermore, the library budget of $25,000 for the project necessarily demands frugality.

On Saturday, the library hosted a workshop to gather ideas for providing the best electronic information resources in the new library. Nationally known library “futurists” and local IT experts and other community members brainstormed the library’s e-future.

Many such meetings of minds will be needed to guide the development of new library programs, services and the rebranding, too.

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