BILLINGS — The Billings Public Library has been celebrating the 10-year anniversary of its most recent building for the last week, but the library has been a cornerstone for community for more than 120 years.
“Our community is very fortunate to have had this lengthy history with these wonderful public libraries," said Kelsie Rubich, the assistant director of the Billings Public Library.
Demand for a library in Billings became prominent in the 1890s, according to Kevin Kooistra, the museum director of the Western Heritage Center. The building that now houses the Western Heritage Center Museum was designed in 1901 as Billings' first public library.
“Art classes were (held at the library), civic and social groups used the space in the 20s, the women’s clubs, the beekeepers association, the liberal club of Billings all had use of this space," said Kooistra.
The multipurpose functions of the space redefined the library from being something of a storage for books and knowledge to the community center space commonly thought of today, according to Kooistra.
“Our library also connects our community. Y’know, how many spaces exist where you can come in and we don’t ask you to buy anything," said Rubich.
She said in the last 10 years, the library has hosted more than 3 million visitors and has checked out more than 7 million items both digitally and physically.