Opened just last September, the 6.7 million dollar library is 38,000 sf and was built on a city-owned piece of property. Library Director Bette Ammon talked about the partnerships in place that made the project a success--Foundation and Friends' support, help from the City, and expanding the library "walls" through partnerships with other libraries in Idaho and Washington. In fact, the theme at all of the sites we visited was "partnerships." Partnerships with developers and other private enterprise; partnerships between city and city and city and county; partnerships between community colleges and 4-year institutions; partnerships between various non-profit groups. It was an inspiring and motivating trip and the discussions on the long bus ride home centered around what we can do, here in the Flathead, to make our Valley inviting and prosperous while responding to our rapid growth. If you happen to be traveling through the Coeur d'Alene area, I encourage you to stop in and tour the new Library and the new Chamber building--both wonderful examples of the power of partnership!
The Flathead County Library System is also a great example of partnerships. We have inter-local agreements between the County and the cities of Whitefish and Columbia Falls. We share space in the community-owned Arts and Cultural Center in Bigfork and we soon hope to embark upon a public/school partnership there with the Bigfork High School improvements. We partner with libraries throughout the state to bring over 700,000 books, dvds, and CDs to our customers. We have library associations and wonderful volunteers in all of our communities that have helped build facilities, augment collections, and support programs. Our Library Foundation is working to establish partnerships that will financially support buildings, programs, and collections in all of our branches. The power of partnership is alive and well in the Flathead; just look to your local libraries.