By Martin Kidston/Missoula Current

The Missoula Public Library's Board of Trustees has selected Dick Anderson Construction to serve as the general contractor for a new public library, which could open in early 2020.

The library's capital campaign committee is also looking to raise an additional $2 million as part of its effort to secure $5 million in private funds for the estimated $35 million facility, which is set for construction on the 400 block of East Front Street.

“We've reached our $3 million short-term goal,” said Karl Olsen, director of the library foundation. “Our capital campaign committee doubled in the new year. We have a large active committee and they're just chipping away at it. We're very hopeful we'll reach that $5 million goal.”

Voters last year approved a 20-year, $30 million bond to build a new public library by an overwhelming majority. Passage of the bond set in motion a series of events that will continue to play out over the coming years.

The timeline will see deconstruction of homes along the 400 block of East Front beginning this summer. Once the block is cleared, construction of the new library is set to begin in the spring of 2018.

The goal is to have the new building open by early 2020, Olsen said.

“Now that the contractor is on board, they'll be setting a specific date soon,” Olsen said. “Mid-2017 is the goal to begin deconstructing the 400 block of East Front Street. The deconstruction is slated to begin this summer and new construction is still scheduled to begin in the spring and summer of 2018.”

Olsen said the collection of homes in the block east of the current library will be deconstructed, and usable items will be salvaged. The public will have a short window of opportunity to move the homes to another location, he said.

The details of that process remain in the works.

“There are no dates set and no one has been hired to do that deconstruction work,” Olsen said. “The public will likely have an short window of opportunity to move buildings if they want them.”

The final design of a new Missoula Public Library will stay true to the vision unveiled last year.
The final design of a new Missoula Public Library will stay true to the vision unveiled last year.

A modern library has been in the works for six years. The library’s all-volunteer Board of Trustees began discussing a new facility as far back as 2010 and have long cited the need for additional space and a modern facility fitted with new technology.

Plans call for a four-story building providing roughly 121,000 square feet. The new facility will also house three Missoula nonprofits, including the Children’s Museum Missoula, Missoula Community Access Television, and the University of Montana’s SpectrUM Discovery Area.

A series of public participation events are scheduled over the next few months as part of the final design process.

“The architects are basically in what could be called part two of a two-part design process,” Olsen said. “They spent about a year before the bond doing preliminary work. Now they're wrapping up their design work. The goal at the end of this year would be to have the blueprints.”

Olsen said the final design will closely adhere to early renderings.

“They're aiming for that same vision,” he said. “It's possible things could be rearranged and moved around, but the vision is still intact.”

The public events are scheduled for 7 p.m. on April 11, June 29 and August 16 at the library.

Contact reporter Martin Kidston at