Written by Dan Brandenburg. Re-Posted with permission.
AT YOUR SERVICE- Library employees pose with some of the prizes to be given away March 21, as well as the new storybook mural in the background. Shown from the left, Trinitie Wilke, Library Director, Katie Dey, Gail Klemann and Sharon Stuhr. Missing: Bob Tomczyk.
You've come a long way baby! The Marion Public LIbrary will be celebrating its 90th Birthday with a celebration and grand re-opening.
The library's history began when the Marion Woman's Club was founded on March 15, 1922. One of the club's first community projects was to collect baskets of books from all over town and start a library. The books that were collected were placed on a shelf in the Village Hall located at the corner of Main Street and Parkview Avenue.
The Woman's Club Library Board met on June 2, 1922 at the home of President Mrs. Carl Schaub where Mr. Clarence Lester, Secretary of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission was in attendance.
Mr. Lester explained the ways of organizing libraries and stated that much help and assistance would be given by the State Commission.
The Commission would send plenty of traveling libraries for summer use and enlist the Woman's Club in purchasing books both in English and German. They would also send free specifications for constructing shelving for the library.
The Marion Woman's Club continued to support the library since its beginning. A yearly donation for the purchase of books was always part of the club's budget until it disbanded several years ago.
A member of the Woman's Club always served on the Library Board. On the 75th anniversary of the Woman's Club and library in 1997, a basket of new children's books were gathered and presented to the library.
The library remained in the City Hall building until February of 2011 when it moved to its new quarters in the former Marion State Bank building.
Recognizing a need for a new library in 1992, library director Esther West donated $300 that she had received from the OWLS Librarian Advisory Committee to establish a library expansion fund. The fund grew slowly and in May 1995, the fund had about $4,500.
A walk-a-thon was held that summer that raised $1,150 and aluminum cans were salvaged from the Marion Homecoming, which added to the fund.
Through help and guidance from Clintonville Library Director Harriet McCauley and Clintonville Friends Treasurer Doris Abrahamson, the Marion Library Board set about establishing a Friends of the Marion Library group in 1993. That group has grown through the years and has been a strong supporter of a new library along with purchasing items for the library.
The Marion Library Board of Directors made a first step on February 6, 1995 when it voted unanimously to proceed with a site selection for a new library. The library was the last remaining city department to be located in the old city hall.
A study found that to remodel the old building approached new constructions costs.
In June 1996, the Marion Public Library Foundation was established for the specific purpose of raising funds for a new library with a five-year goal set for a new library. The foundation, as an arm of the Marion Public Library, enabled donations to be tax deductible.
Many fund raising events were held, including having former Marion coach and at the time UWM basketball coach Dick Bennett speak at a fundraiser. Murray Meyer contacted Coach Bennett and he agreed to come. Murray passed away before the event, but another important thing that Murray did was place $50,000 into a bank certificate of deposit for the library foundation. This $50,000 helped the library foundation reach it's first $100,000.
Other fund raising included many summer brat fries, a golf outing, a building fund pig that sat at the check-out dest that raised about $2000 and many other small events.
The city of Marion submitted a grant to rehabilitate old buildings. Included in the grant was the old city hall, which still housed the library. Needed now, when the city secured the grant, was a new home for the library. The Marion State Bank had outgrown its present facility and was constructing a new building in the Marion Industrial Park. The old bank was offered and purchased by the city for a new home for the library.
The library foundation pledged $100,000 to help with the re-modeling. Funds for interior furnishings needed to be raised and on January 16, 2000, a fund-raising kickoff was held in the lower level of the Marion State Bank. Jerry and Donna Milbauer had agreed to co-chair the Libary Foundation fundraising efforts. Through the tireless efforts of the Milbauers, the foundation held a dance, and several months later, an auction that had countless donations of items, plus volunteer workers from social, fraternal and civic groups.
Clubs held events such as golf outings or donations from annual fund raising events. Donations of a doll promoted a raffle. Whatever it took to add to the total fund raising was tried. The Town of Dupont made a 5-year pledge to the library in 1995. Each year they contributed $1,000.
Donations were received from all over Wisconsin and the United States. Memorials were given in memory of loved ones or former classmates.
Children held bake sales and grandparents gave money to recognize their grandchildren. The Marion Senior Center contributed. People's birthdays were honored through donations. Businesses gave donations along with employees to help at fund raising activities.
Marion Plywood Corporation paid for the checkout desk in its entirety. The Friends paid for the furniture in the children's department. Alliant Energy matched funds given by their present and former employees and gave a grant for computer furniture. These were but a few of the many donations received.
In January, 2001 to goal of $350,000 was reached. $100,000 was given to the city for re-modeling and $50,000 donated, by the Marion State Bank was also given to the city. The library closed in early February, books were placed in storage, and the staff began to make the newly re-modeled building into their new facility.
Furniture arrived and was put in place and on March 12, 2001 the Marion Public Library opened its doors.
The goal set in Feburary 1995 was realized but in a different way. Not a new building, but a new home in 2001. A long journey, but realization of a goal by the Marion LIbrary Board and the Marion Library Foundation.
The library made great progress following its move in 2001, but it's been in the last few years that the library has really grown and really put Marion Public LIbrary on the map.
The library started in 2008 with a makeover of the inside, repainting, purchasing new furniture and adding a lot of small touches.
They then worked at getting the building handicap accessible with automatic doors and automatic lighting.
The next project focused on developing their collection and increasing circulation and in 2011 the library circulated 54,626 itedms which is 16,000 more items than in 2008. They are on track to increase their circulation again in 2012 as the numbers in January and February show 850 more items went out than last year during that time.
Circulation is a large part of the library's funding, so the more they circulate, the more money they get for the library. So stop by and check out a book or 20 today.
Your Marion Public Library is a great community asset and they say thank you to all who support it!!
Remember it's not just about books anymore. The library has internet computers, videos, DVDs, magazines, Wii, puzzles, games, crafts and many activities held throughout the year. "Like us on Facebook to stay up to date," said Library Director Trinitie Wilke.