Advocates for Ohio libraries use the phrase “Ohio Libraries = Strong Communities.” That is what the Marion Public Library brings to Marion County. Each day the Marion Public Library hosts a variety of programs and events for the public to attend – some days with multiple options. It is the Library’s hope that these programs can build “connections” in our community, to help people throughout their lives and through all kinds of experiences.
The Library starts young with multiple programs to help children on their path of literacy. One program is the My First Library Card. This special card allows all Marion County children under 6 to check out materials from the Kids Area without late fees, building that early love of reading. In 2018, over 300 children received this card with numbers climbing in 2019.
That program, along with Music Time and multiple age levels of Storytime, helps to get young children off to a good start as life-long readers. More of a challenge might be keeping them as readers and involved in the library as tweens and teenagers. That is why there are two new programs for those age groups- Fellowship of the Geeks and Spine Crackers. Spine Crackers is a book club just for tweens, to talk about their favorite books and discover new books and authors. Fellowship of the Geeks encourages teens/tweens to socialize and talk about things like Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, video games and super heroes, as well as participate in break off book discussions and activities.
Adults are not left behind at the Marion Public Library. The wealth of materials for checkout at the library is astounding. Materials available for all ages to check out were 373,493 pieces in 2018 and almost 34,000 of those items were new. With a library card, patrons also have free access to lynda.com, which has more than 12,000 online courses, including instruction on computer software and business topics. The video courses are taught by industry experts and are designed for any skill level.
Not all help is online. The Library assists patrons with research, using eBooks and computer programs, job searching and resume writing, through their Book-a-Librarian program. These are 30- 60 minute sessions that can be scheduled with a local librarian.
Beyond the books discussions that are offered at the library, the Marion Public Library offers fiction and non-fiction book discussion kits. These kits include several copies of a book title that can be checked for book clubs’ use.
New to the Marion Public Library this year is the Adult Lifelong Learning (all) program. These classes cover a variety of topics for individuals 18 years old or older. They are short-term, non-credit lessons offered during the fall and spring months that encourage creativity, critical thinking, and personal growth and development.
For the senior population that are no longer capable to come to the library, the Library offers home bound services. The Library provides this service free of charge to adults living in Marion County who have difficulty visiting the library or who live in a retirement or nursing home.
It is no wonder why Gary Branson, the Executive Director of the Library, says, “The best card in your wallet or on your keychain is your library card, giving you access to the world!” This is a small sample of the programs available in Marion.
Libraries are no longer simply storage facilities for books. But shifting the public’s perception of what libraries can be is a long process—with much more yet to be accomplished. The goal is to show the importance of evolving library services to the community, all while maintaining a focus on literacy and lifelong learning.
Marion can be proud of their innovative and ever-changing library. To find out more about the programs mentioned and others, visit their website at www.marionlibrary.org or better yet visit the Marion Public Library at 445 East Church or any of its branches in LaRue, Prospect and Caledonia.