The mural on the side of the library was painted by local painter Jim Shirk. Shirk’s goal was to create a mural that encompassed all the beautiful elements of the Twin Bridges area. PHOTO BY JOLENE PALMER

Twin Bridges Public Library gets an update

Office and front desk renovated, Discovery Hall to come

The Twin Bridges Public Library was in need of a facelift.

Brenda Pollorena, library director, was told at one point that the red, yellow and blue diamond-patterned carpet was rejected from a Target store. A chunk of that carpet was cut out and put on the front desk with glass placed over it for a glossy finish.

“It was very dated because this used to be a lumber yard, this building. It had this brown, padded thing on the front part where you lean, or where you would be if you were checking out a book, and it was held in with these brass thumb tacks,” Pollorena said.

Retro in the not-cool way, perhaps.

The Friends of the Twin Bridges Library, which disbanded last summer, wanted to renovate the office and front desk space for years. After they dissolved, they gave money raised to the library specifically for the office and front desk renovation. That, along with funds the library had saved, made the upgrade possible.

“The renovation is most welcomed and is such a great improvement after so many years,” Pat Bradley, former Friend of the Twin Bridges Library, said.

Speaking of years, the library in Twin Bridges—which has moved locations a handful of times—began its services in the late 1800s. Its origins were in a Montana Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WTCU), that met to discuss how to designate the $40 they had remaining after deciding to discontinue. This money was raised to create a library fund, and some was set for a public circulating library, according to a Montana Standard-Post article from 1965.

“Women’s groups were very often—if not most often—the impetus behind the establishment of libraries. Temperance and moral uplift were often motivators. This was particularly true in Bozeman where the leader of the temperance union encouraged (the library’s) construction in the red-light district,” Kate Hampton with the Montana State Historic Preservation Office explained.

Or, as the Twin Bridges Public Library’s website puts it, ‘it began as a reading room created by a group of industrious women to lure men away from saloons.’ Jury’s out on whether that worked or not, but libraries are longstanding institutions in many cases, nonetheless.

“A lot of libraries, especially small town libraries, were started by WCTU groups, whose mission was to combat the influence of alcohol on families and society,” Anne Kish, library director and associate professor at the University of Montana-Western, said.

Furthermore, they serve as ‘third homes’ in small communities, next in line after work and home. Libraries are places where one could work quietly, escape into a new novel in a cozy nook or explore the history of the surrounding area.

A second renovation in the works to heighten all the abilities a library can offer. The Benefactors of the Twin Bridges Library is working on putting together a capital campaign, sending out donation letters, to help fund Discovery Hall.

Discovery Hall will include private research rooms, a fireplace, an archive room and the Seidensticker Wild Animal Exhibit. Professional archival shelving was donated to better store bound copies of The Madisonian from 1897, Lewis and Clark Expedition journals and Twin Bridges High School Yearbooks.

The Seidensticker family collection of exotic animals—lions, polar bears, moose and more collected during trophy hunts in Africa, India, Alaska, Ecuador and Canada—rested at one point in Dillon, but the need for more space at the college and the family’s desire to house their artifacts locally resulted in the library as the next chosen location.

Siv Seidensticker sold the family ranch in Twin Bridges to Allen Hamilton in 1989 after almost five decades. A Seidensticker family member will donate a book that details where the hunts occurred and where the animals came from.

Pollorena and Sara Gilman, local photographer, looked through the archives inside the library to gather information for Gilman to use in creating a new library website. Their search and discovery were motivated by questions.

“The information is there, you just don’t have the time to go through it,” Pollerna said.

Until someone starts asking questions.

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The Madisonian

65 N. MT Hwy 287
Ennis, MT 59729

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