Starting today, the Flathead County Library System has a new name: ImagineIF Libraries.
Why change a name that has withstood the test of time?
Because libraries no longer are merely warehouses for books and periodicals, Library Director Kim Crowley said. Today’s libraries are “launching pads” for dreams and ideas.
“ImagineIF is all about expanding boundaries and exploring ideas,” Crowley said. “ImagineIF is about transformative experiences every day and remarkable possibilities for the future.”
The library is launching its new name and logo this week with a number of parties and celebratory events ranging from a photo booth to live music.
The reasons people use libraries are much more diverse these days, she said. Beyond the books and other written materials, today’s library is a place to access technology, find entertainment, learn do-it-yourself skills and make friends.
Crowley and her staff, along with the Library Board, wanted to develop a brand that will make the libraries social gathering spots in their communities. With a $40,000 grant from the Flathead County Library Foundation, Ricochet Ideas, a brand-building consulting firm in Denver, was hired to create a new brand for the library system.
Imagine IF Libraries, which include library facilities in Kalispell, Bigfork, Columbia Falls and Marion, will begin offering experience-based programs to teach patrons new skills and “turn the library into a place for building, collaborating and creating,” Crowley said.
One of the upcoming do-it-yourself projects will be teaching people how to build their own chicken coops with hands-on instruction at the library. In February, do-it-yourself stations will be set up for library users to make their own home-cleaning products.
The library staff already has incorporated a number of hands-on learning activities for children and teens. Now the hands-on instruction will be expanded to all ages.
“We’re interacting with people more on their terms,” Crowley said.
Crowley said the two remarks she hears over and over again when she interacts with people outside of the library are: “Do we need libraries any more?” and “Oh, my goodness I have overdue books to return.”
One of the patron benefits of the rebranding is that ImagineIF Libraries will be fine-free, Assistant Library Director Connie Behe said. Many people associate the library with being penalized if they don’t return books on time.
“We want people to have a good experience,” Behe said. “And we want [the staff] to spend quality time on the floor.”
The library system collects $8,000 to $10,000 annually from fines, but it costs much more in staff time to process the fines, Crowley noted.
The fine-free system starts Monday. On Friday at the Kalispell launch party, late fines will be cleared from all customer accounts.
Coming this summer is a book bike that will offer library services at community events such as the farmers market.
This week anyone who signs up for a new ImagineIF library card or trades in his or her old library card will receive a free tote bag sporting the new logo. ImagineIF temporary tattoos will be free at all locations while supplies last.
A new website is available at www.imagineiflibraries.org.
Features editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or by email at email@example.com.