On January 31, 2014, 6:30pm, the “Celebration of the Century” took place with the Grand Opening of the new Billings Public Library. The temperature was frigid that night, but it didn’t chill the high spirits of the guests attending the event! What a contrast to the scorching 100-degree temperature that blanketed the 300 community residents who attended the Groundbreaking Ceremony on June 28, 2012. Standing side by side outlining the footprint for the new library building, the “Construction period” began and a new Cornerstone in the community would be established. As president of the Library Foundation, it was my honor and privilege to give the “Welcoming” at each of these events and to extend the Foundation’s thanks and gratitude to everyone for their philanthropic giving, their understanding of the significant role the library plays in the community and how the new Library would serve not only as the center and transmitter for learning, knowledge and entertainment but how the library would also provide the resources and professional staff necessary for the users to meet the challenges of the 21st century. And here we are today!
It’s important to remember and acknowledge Royal Johnson as we look back on these historic events. He had the vision and foresight regarding the important role a foundation could provide to a library’s future and growth. In the 1989, Royal helped to establish the Library Foundation with a mission to raise and provide the vital funds to ensure the vitality and future growth of the library. Royal challenged the Foundation always to look “Above and Beyond.” And indeed, the Foundation has been successful in meeting this challenge. With the strong leadership of the Foundation Director Leslie Modrow, and the dedicated Foundation Board Members who truly understand the mission of the Foundation, the vision and hope of a new library building became a reality.
As we celebrate this Anniversary, it is also very important to acknowledge and extend gratitude and thanks to the individuals, organizations, companies, and corporations who all provided the financial support needed to build the library. The generosity shown was Above and Beyond the norm. It was truly a privilege and honor for the Library Foundation to serve as a leader in this historic and Visionary Library Project and my honor to serve as president during those exciting and challenging years.
Billings Public Library Foundation Board of Directors
2008-2011; 2011-2014; 2014-2017
Board President 2012-2014