Pam McLean enjoys trips to the Glacier County Library with her grandchildren. Libraries have become so much more than just a place to check out books.

If you have ever stepped foot inside the Cut Bank branch of the Glacier County Library, you know what a wonderful treasure it is. And if you are a regular user of this facility, no doubt you recognize how very fortunate we are to have this library in our community. 

“We are so lucky to have this library here in Cut Bank,” said Mike Cooper, Cut Bank resident. “I go to the library a lot, use the computers, check out books and DVDs, see what books they have for sale and which ones are on the shelves to swap. You can get almost any kind of publication you want from them and if they don’t have it on the shelf, they are more than willing to help you find a way to get it. The library is a great place.”

Similar comments are heard on a regular basis from members of the community and also from those passing through our town. 

“Libraries have become so much more than just a place to check out books. We have patrons who come in to use the computers for job searches, keeping in touch with friends and family, applying for benefits and looking up information,” said Rose Grubb, Circulations Supervisor at Glacier County Library, the Cut Bank branch. “Parents bring their kids for play dates or to get coffee and catch up with a friend. It’s a safe place for kids to hang out while their parents are at work. Community groups use it for meetings and events. Our library is not only for books and reference, but for socializing and making connections with people.”

“I love how many kids come into the library each week, excited about programs and services we offer,” said Austin Castle, Assistant Librarian at Glacier County Library, Cut Bank branch. “They ask every week if it’s time for Lego Club or Makerspace and beg their parents to let them stay at the library for just a little bit longer to keep playing. They are always eager to come in and pick out some new books to checkout for their Accelerated Reader points.”

Along with Lego Club and Makerspace time for kids, the library hosts many classroom visits for students from not only Cut Bank Schools, but the local Hutterite colonies in the area too. Between those events and the Summer Reading Program, which is also for adults, over 1,300 kids came through the library from July of 2018 to May of this year. 

A new program was implemented this year called 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten, bringing in another age group of kids and their parents. “It is a nationwide initiative that we are a part of, where libraries are encouraging parents to read to their children from baby age through kindergarten age,” said Jamie Greco, Director and Librarian at Glacier County Library. “And it has been very popular.” 

There are only three employees taking care of business at the Cut Bank library, due to budget cuts for this fiscal year. Because of those same budget restrictions, library hours have also been cut.  

(See library budget related article in this week’s issue.)

“We are only open 40 hours a week, Monday through Friday and have been forced to close the doors on Saturday, which was a popular day for not only kids, but adults and teachers to use the facility, especially during the school year and winter season,” Greco said. 

Greco said that libraries around the country, including the two located in Glacier County, one in Cut Bank and the one in Browning, offer many services for their patrons. They help people stay in touch with the world, connect to the online world, read about places in the world and learn about their roots in this world. They encourage people of all ages to read books, learn how they can find books in their library and how to use those books as study guides or entertainment pieces. 

The library is a quiet place to learn and study or sit and catch up on current events, with friends and even make new friends. The library is a busy place when kids are in the basement building, creating, learning, socializing and participating in programs designed just for them. 

The library is a place this community needs. It is a place people need.

“We strive to make our library a warm and welcoming place for every person that walks through our doors. I am proud to be part of a team who not only loves books and recognizes the importance of literacy, but first and foremost loves and recognizes the importance of connecting with the community we serve,” Grubb shared. 

“We are all about our community and I truly believe, the people of this community need us. They need us to continue the programs we have started. They need us to continue to provide the services we have established. They need us to have a competent staff to answer their questions. This community wanted a library and needs a library. We want to be that library and we want to see the doors stay open for a long time to come,” added Greco.

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