When it comes to literature, the local library is the obvious choice. But music and movement? Craft classes? Art exhibits?
The ImagineIF Libraries in Kalispell, Columbia Falls, Bigfork and Marion have gone beyond books, offering a variety of themed programming, classes and events since they re-branded two years ago.
“We’ve seen a huge surge in program attendance in all age groups,” said Connie Behe, ImagineIF assistant director. “It’s been a major change from just offering passive content to active learning events ... We feel like we’ve been successful in that.”
Part of the idea behind the re-branding of the libraries, Behe added, was a chance to focus on being more involved in the community. ImagineIF now hosts a regular “Business and Brews” workshop at the Kalispell Brewing Co., as well as providing trivia at KBC every Monday night. May will bring in the second annual Commuter Challenge that involves businesses across the Flathead. They also have two adult book clubs, an anime and social club for teens, and a full schedule of event offerings for children.
“We [have become] a participatory library,” Behe said. “It’s a style of 21st-century learning that focuses on collaboration, creation, and hands-on adaptability.”
Today is also the annual Loud at the Library fundraiser, an evening of live music, food and fun for all ages, right inside the library. The event is hosted by the ImagineIF Library Foundation and raises money to support ImagineIF Libraries.
Loud at the Library will take place from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 24, at ImagineIF Kalispell. The library will close at 4 p.m. to prepare for the festivities. Tickets are $35, available in the business office at ImagineIF Kalispell (406-758-5821), and at ImagineIF Columbia Falls (406-892-5919).
The evening will feature live music by the Ashley Creek Ramblers, catered appetizers, wine, beer from Kalispell Brewing Company, raffle baskets and door prizes. Four unique “Little Free Libraries” will be raffled. The Little Free Libraries will come stocked with books donated by the Friends of the Library.
“It is such a fun party,” Behe said. “It’s a chance to really celebrate the library.”
The ImagineIF Library Foundation works to enhance and support the programs, facilities and services of ImagineIF Libraries. Money brought in by Loud at the Library goes toward facilities upgrades and programs for all ages.
Behe said the next big step for the organization is a remodel of the Bigfork branch. It will be closed for construction on May 13 and 14, and Behe said she expects they will have a celebration for the reopening shortly after that.
For more information about the Foundation, call 406-758-2469 or visit www.imagineiflibraryfoundation.org.
For more information on any of the ImagineIF Library branches, including schedules of upcoming programs, visit www.imagineiflibraries.org.
Entertainment editor Stefanie Thompson can be reached at 758-4439 or ThisWeek@dailyinterlake.com.
Calem Steward, 3 of Kalispell, and other children dance along with the music at Storytime at ImagineIF Library in Kalispell on Tuesday, March 22.
Parents and children take part in activities following storytime on Tuesday, March 22, at ImagineIF Library in Kalispell.
A "Little Free Library" on display at the ImagineIF Library is one of the items that will be auctioned off at this year's Loud at the Library tonight, March 24, in Kalispell.
Cami Matern, 4, of Kalispell, takes part in storytime at ImagineIF Library in Kalispell on Tuesday, March 22.