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Marion County Library Wv – Marion County Public Library

The Fairview Public Library recently got a new paint job in its kids room that features an underwater theme.

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The teen and young adult room in the Marion County Public Library on Monroe Street was repainted recently.

FAIRMONT — Every four years, the voters of Marion County have an extra box to check on their ballot — the library levy.

In 2018, voters chose to take a hike in taxes to fund the Marion County Library System for the next four years. Each year, that money has gone to everything from basic bill payments to repainting rooms.

This fiscal year is the last year covered under the 2018 levy, and it will appear on the ballot in May 2022. Marion County’s library levy pays for approximately 79% of the library system’s budget, the rest comes from various grants and funds from city, county or state organizations.

In 2020, the MCPLS’ board of trustees released a five-year plan that spells out some of the projects and expenses the libraries are looking at over the coming years.

“Every five-year cycle, the library develops a ‘strategic plan’ which guides our thinking for the future,” said Larissa Cason, library director of the MCPLS. “It helps us decide the types of services we’d like to provide.”

The strategic plan is less of a roadmap and more of a list of general goals the library seeks to achieve in the next five years. In the plan, there are five major areas the libraries look to strengthen in the community.

Community Spaces

The first section in the plan is the goal of making the library a safe space for discussion and engagement, and also pushing for keeping up with the needs as the world becomes more digitally-focused than print-focused.

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In this section are goals that have been met, and goals of major scale, such as identifying a new “main library” building. Now that COVID-19 restrictions are waning, many of the goals in this section, which involve opening conference rooms for rent and special programming, are now in reach.

Civic Engagement

This section includes some topics that were heavily hampered by the pandemic, and mainly focuses on in-person programming and serving homebound patrons.

Some events such as board game nights, murder mystery dinners, and other programs were mostly canceled or moved virtual due to the pandemic, however, many of these programs will kick back into action in the coming months.

“Hopefully meets each individual’s needs and the county’s needs,” Cason said. “Maybe it just gets them to meet like-minded people.”

July 7 was the library’s first board gaming night held in-person since the shutdowns of March 2020. In attendance were 27 people who came together to play board games.

Critical Literacies

The libraries in Marion County have a strong relationship with Marion County Schools. This section of the plane and the next focus on working as a second learning facility for students all around the county.

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The libraries have pushed to get library cards in the hands of all K-12 students in the county, but also work with those who are on different life paths by organizing on-site GED training.

“One of the things that’s great about libraries is they’re a lot like schools,” Marion County School Superintendent Donna Hage said. “I think it’s vital to have a relationship with our public library… it lets the school system not work in isolation.”

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Facilitate Learning

The library system has worked, and continues to work, on being a place of learning and fun for the kids and adults of the community. Many of the services in this section were expedited by the pandemic and the advent of virtual and remote learning.

The library offers free Wi-Fi, printing services, research help and computer access. Some of these services were things students could only access from their schools. This also pushed the libraries into lending services other than books.

“There is something in libraries as ‘the library of things’ which is where you can borrow things that you might not think about borrowing,” Cason said. “For example we have acquired Wi-Fi hotspots that we lend. The library buys the device as well as the wireless service, so a borrower can come in and borrow a Wi-Fi hotspot and have free Wi-Fi in there house for the amount of time they can borrow that.”

The MCPLS summer reading program is always filled with programming and activities for learners of all ages and fits under the umbrella of the libraries facilitating learning.

Community Engagement

The last section in the plan details ways the library can bring the community together and more involved. Many of the goals in this section have already been met.

Some of the major focuses in this section have been on branding and promotion. However, it also details some major projects that have been helpful to much of the community, such as the library’s bookmobiles and the “Little Free Libraries.”

“We’re always looking to expand access to information,” Cason said. “ are places somebody can go to leave a book they’ve finished and somebody can take a book they haven’t read. It’s part of trying to promote literacy in Marion County.”

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In addition to these services, the library has also implemented a new self-checkout in the front lobby — an asset listed in the strategic plan.

Meeting Individual Needs

In many cases, libraries are greater than the sum of their parts. The atmosphere and services provided by Marion County’s three libraries are invaluable for many.

“Libraries are the last place you can go, not spend any money, and sit for a couple hours,” Cason said. “As long as you’re using a library service, which can even just be using our Wi-Fi, you can just come and sit.”

Cason said she truly hopes the MCPLS has done its job and continues to meet the needs of the county.

“Hopefully it meets the county’s needs and meets every individual’s needs to enrich their lives in some way,” Cason said.

In June, the library showcased in its monthly newsletter all the new remodeling projects that were recently completed. The library in Fairmont had work done to its skylight and repainted the teen and young adult room. The Fairview Library had its kids room fully repainted as well.

Being that 79% of the MCPLS’ budget comes from the levy, the library has shown that it has been putting Marion County’s tax dollars to good use, Cason said.

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If interested in reading the library’s 2020-2025 strategic plan, visit www.MCPLS.org/admin. Also found on that page is contact info for Marion County’s three branches.

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