Library is celebrating a birthday

The public is invited to the Marathon library’s birthday party on Friday, March 24 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. In addition to light refreshments, the library will have presentations on its history and staff, a 3D printer and live chalk mural artist demonstrations. Designs for the new library will also be on display. 

Marathon’s library undergoing revitalization

For the past three years or so, Marathon library branch manager Christy Danford has been — literally — rearranging the books and taking stock of the situation. With a background in both library sciences and information technology, she and the staff have plenty of exciting ideas worthy of the new library soon to be built in Marathon. It will be located on the corner of Stanley Switlik Elementary School block, where the adult education building is now. The combined space will include multiple meeting rooms, expanded curriculum and a building with as many “green” features as possible.

But the action is starting now with a birthday party on Friday, March 24 and the public is invited to learn about what’s going on now, and what’s planned.

5 reasons to love the library

1.      Digital literacy

“Before I started studying library science, my background was in information technology,” Danford said. Sooner rather than later, the library plans on offering basic computer classes for both seniors and kids. Danford recently toured libraries on the mainland with You-Make (sewing and embroidery machines, painting and easels) and You-Media centers (Mac computers with suites of design, film and sound recording software, robotic kits, green screens and sound booths). “But, I don’t know if that’s what the Keys wants. It may be more appropriate to have sophisticated navigation software or technology with ecology applications,” Danford said.

2.      Cultural literacy

In 2017, the Marathon library has started inviting musicians and artists to interact with the community. The Kennedys, a New York-based duo, performed on a stage in the newly refurbished garden area. The library currently has a display of the work of the late photographer Arthur Rothstein, on loan from another institution. “And, on Friday, we will have local artist Courtney Foster, who is a chalk artist, who will be creating an exhibit in the Kids’ Room,” Danford said.

3.      Books

They always have been, and always will be the reason for the library’s existence. Right now, the Marathon library has 33,000 physical items — books, DVDs, audiobooks and CDs). Last fiscal year, there were 52,000 visits to the library where 2,000 patrons checked out 15,373 items. There’s no reason to be overwhelmed, librarians have plenty of suggestions including the the monthly exhibit at the front door that is always cleverly themed. This month? “I can’t remember the title but it’s green” in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. “Of course, we have many e-audio (recorded) and e-books (digital) offerings too,” Danford said. Users can use the Overdrive App to check “out” the books.

4.      Library Staff

More than almost any other department, Monroe County Library Services suffered during the budget cuts of the recent recession. Slowly, it’s building back to where it was and Danford hopes to even expand further with the help of the “human” resources. Student mentoring will be important as those programs progress, as is the standard, helpful librarian — the one that can steer guests to  reliable information sources, maintain order and be the welcoming ambassador to all segments of Marathon’s population.

5.      What’s coming

In the plans for years, the new Marathon library is set to be complete in late 2018. “We stalled for a little bit to consider some of the ‘green’ features,’” Danford said, adding she hopes solar panels can be added to the roof of the structure. It will be located very close to Stanley Switlik, easily accessible to those students, and include more than one community space. “We will have a separate room just for library programming and events, plus a room that everyone can use,” she said. “It will also be home to the adult education center and we hope that we can help each other out with dual programming.” Plans call for a temperature-controlled archival vault with materials from the state and associated reading room. With Danford’s background in tech, expect lots of those bells and whistles.


40,000 — number of registered patrons in Monroe County library system.

350,000 — number of visits to Keys libraries in FY 2016-17

30,000 — the number of Keys patrons who checked out e-audio (recorded) and e-books (digital) books




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