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Billings Public Library seeking old photos from 1960-1999

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Posted at 6:43 PM, Mar 08, 2023

BILLINGS — Old photos of Billings give so much insight into how the city was. The Billings Public Library is on a mission to find more images from the city’s past, but they need the public's help.

Photos like the one below are already a part of the Montana History Portal, a free online hub where people can find historical images, documents, and audio clips of Montana.

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“We have a great amount of photos already on there, but mostly from the early 1900s, late 1800s, things like that. Really what we’re missing is the stretch of time from the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s,” said Joe Lanning, the Billings Public Library archivist on Wednesday.

That’s where the public comes in, with the library’s Community Archive Project.

“The Community Archive Project is really an initiative to get the community to submit their memories from a particular stretch of time,” Lanning said.

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Lanning said it’s the idea of keeping history alive from a personal perspective.

“It’s just a matter of sharing what you had to see, what you thought was important and other people love to look at that stuff. I know we do,” said Lanning.

The photos can be of Billings area events, landmarks, notable people, and even something as simple as what the interior of homes looked like, as long as they were taken between the 60s and the 90s.

“I need to know where it was and where it was taken, but I can do that with people’s permissions. We really just want to say get us your photos and then we’ll reach out later to get all the details possible,” Lanning said.

If your photo is digitized, you can send it to the Billings Public Library Facebook pagethrough messenger or to their email at refdesk@billingsmt.gov. And if they’re not digitized, no problem. The library is asking a limit of 10 photos per person.

“We have a great Memory Lab in our library where we have very high-quality scanners that can capture your photo, can digitize it, put it on a flash drive,” said Lanning.

Lanning said the employees at the library would be more than happy to help. They will be accepting photos until May 1 and then will showcase the photos on May 12.

“We’ll tack them up on the wall at the Friday fun event but then afterward, we’re going to submit these to the Montana History Portal,” Lanning said.