Friends of the Library receive Humanities Montana grant

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Happy smiles spread under the masks worn by members of the Friends of the Glendive Public Library during the first meeting of the 2020-2021 year. Gerry Tweten, president, held up a check for $2,200. The check represents a grant from the March CARES funds assigned to the state of Montana. FOL received its grant through Humanities Montana the awarding entity for grants to museum, libraries and other community cultural organizations in need. Every state has a Humanities Council: the councils processed $75 million in CARES grants. The total package passed by Congress amounted to $2 trillion

Friends of the Glendive Public Library learned of the CARES money at a time when the Dawson County Commissioners announced the library would no longer have a place on the county budget. FOL had lost their annual fundraiser, a Trivia contest, because of COVID-19.

Unfortunately, the price of oil had, momentarily, hit $0 a barrel. That meant layoffs. Then, to exacerbate the unemployment scene in Glendive, Burlington Northern Santa Fe closed the diesel shop laying off 79 workers.

Always filled with faith in Dawson County’s love of books, the Friends met, pledged to spend every cent in the treasury, and to work to exhaustion. Citizens quickly joined in sending unsolicited money, offering help, writing letters of support.

When the Friends began phoning to gain permissions for a fullpage signature ad in the Ranger-Review, they were overwhelmed. Citizens began calling them. The page, in a microscopic font, held 634 names. The page couldn’t hold more names, so the Friends quit calling. Some folks were not pleased about that. The vote was 71.25% for a library tax.

Glendivians Twylla McPherson and Rose Marie Aus have both served four year terms, at different times, on Humanities Montana’s board of trustees. Before them, Louise Cross was a trustee. For many years, Humanities Montana has supported the library’s book discussion programs, and provided Montana Conversations presenters and community conversations.

“Humanities Montana does not forget Eastern Montana,” said Aus. “Our low population, immense area and tax challenges can easily be overshadowed by the cities of the west and noise from the colleges and universities but we always get consideration.”

The library in Richey, a branch of the Dawson County library, is currently closed because of mold in the building. Efforts are being made to come up with a new building. Some donated money has accumulated.