Winters in Montana can be long, cold, and harsh. Snowy weather and early sunsets, create the perfect recipe to hole up and hibernate.
This time of year can be very isolating for residents who find it difficult to get out and socialize. The public library in Superior helps to counteract this seasonal struggle.
Florence Evans, branch librarian since 2008, said “I feel the library is important for many reasons, it’s a gathering place, where all are welcomed equally. You can come in and sit, read, listen to music, it’s not your Grandma’s library!”
Superior local Cassie Murray-McCloskey relies on the library as a source of interaction.
“My favorite part of the library is that there is a place to go for help and learn a new craft, and that it’s purely a social time,” she said.
The Crochet and Knit Lovers is one group where area people may learn a new craft. This group meets on Tuesdays from 2-3 p.m. As scarves and afghans and mittens are being formed, so too are relationships among the ladies who attend. Instead of enjoying these hobbies in the privacy of their homes, the warm library lobby turns into a space to converse about daily life and share fellowship.
“People bring their projects to work on, such as crocheting, knitting, embroidery, whatever sort of portable craft,” Evans said. “It’s sort of like an old fashioned quilting bee, with camaraderie and friendship”.
“Just don’t bring anything too complicated, one time I tried doing a quilted cross stitch, and really got distracted,” laughed group member Vicki Brown.
Another opportunity for socializing occurs on Thursdays when the library book group, The Bees, assemble. From 2-3 p.m. members discuss the literature they are currently perusing. Sometimes the group reads the same book, but usually an author or genre is chosen, and everyone picks their own book within those guidelines.
“We have a pretty lively, enjoyable group!” Evans exclaimed. For January, they read a book with a color in the title. February’s theme will be a book that’s been made into a movie.
Brown noted, “That’s the reason I started coming to the book club, to get out of my comfort zone and try reading things I wouldn’t otherwise.”
One of the newest groups that use the library’s facilities in Superior is the Mineral County Parents as Teachers group. They get together every other Wednesday, from 11 a.m. to noon. The next time they will be at the Superior library is Feb. 5.
If group activities aren’t your cup of tea, you can always take advantage of the libraries many other resources.
“We have WIFI, public computers, The Missoulian and Mineral newspapers, magazines, DVDs, audio books, a children’s area, and a children’s room, an extensive Montana section, and non-fiction section,” Evans said. “And of course, we have fiction books. And it’s all FREE!”
Superior’s public library was established in the 1930s, it has been in its current location, the old hospital building, since the mid 1970s. They are considered a partner library along with at least 30 other Montana libraries and they operate as one entity.
All titles belong to every library in the system, so if they don’t carry a title someone is looking for, the branch can request it from another library in the group.
The request comes up on a daily list, which they print, search for, and then send to the requesting library in crates. These crates are picked up and delivered to the Missoula Library by volunteers.
When they drop off, they pick up what Missoula has coming to Superior. All crates have books going out to other libraries rom the local branch, as well as their books traveling back, and books that patrons have requested.
Helping people and connecting with locals in the community is Evans’ passion.
“The best part of my job is interacting with the public, and my co-workers and friends that attend all our groups. We have all built real friendships through the library.”
Murray-McCloskey figures that she makes it to the library two to three times a week.
“In this day there a lot of people that think the library is unnecessary but I think it would be hard for many not to have access to computers, books and just a place to see a friendly face,” Murray-McCloskey said. “It’s my favorite thing about living in Superior.”
The Superior branch offers free internet access and computers, for employment and other searches. Bring in your Kindle and someone can help you set it up. You can print documents, make copies, and have a cup of coffee while catching up with a neighbor.
As the winter melts into spring the library looks forward to its annual summer reading program. This year, a new event is in the works for the Saturday of the Old Schoolhouse Rock Car Show.
The library’s first Annual Parking Lot Book Sale and Flea Market is scheduled for June 6. For vendor spaces please contact Florence at the library at 822-3563.
In the meantime you can stop by and enjoy all the Superior library has to offer Monday through Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.