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MCPL Board of Trustees votes to join South Central Library System

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January 27, 2021

On January 25, the Marathon County Public Library Board of Trustees voted to approve a motion for the Marathon County Public Library (MCPL) to join the South Central Library System (SCLS). The 4-3 vote was preceded by a year-long analysis by the Library System Task Force, which was formed in January 2020 to thoroughly examine the cost and benefits of joining SCLS. In December 2020, the Task Force’s final recommendation was that MCPL join SCLS.

“I appreciate all of the hard work completed by our Task Force during the past year,” said Marathon County Public Library Director Ralph Illick. “I am excited about the possibility of joining the South Central Library System and collaborating with our friends at the Portage County Public Library, and other libraries in the system. I know our staff are eagerly anticipating future opportunities as well.”

Joining SCLS would benefit the public in many ways, Illick said. Along with an improved and more user-friendly online catalog experience, library patrons would gain access to over 3.5 million items available for checkout, which is more than three times the amount that is currently available to them. Joining the system would also connect MCPL with other neighboring libraries in the region that are part of SCLS, including the Everett Roehl Marshfield Public Library, the McMillan Memorial Library in Wisconsin Rapids, and the Portage County Public Library System, based in Stevens Point.

In addition, SCLS’s large, specialized staff would offer services not currently available to MCPL or its patrons, including employees to assist MCPL with the digitization of local historical documents, which would then be made available to the public for genealogy purposes and other research projects. Being part of SCLS would also provide MCPL with the opportunity to collaborate with larger libraries (including the Madison Public Library), and to share greater tools and resources for offering innovative programs and events to the public.

These additional materials, services, resources and collaborative opportunities would allow MCPL to remain a premiere library not only in central Wisconsin, but across the entire state, and aid the library in offering high-quality, expert-level service at each of its nine locations across Marathon County.

“Our mission is to help our member libraries provide the best possible service to the public,” said Martha Van Pelt, System Director of the South Central Library System. “If the decision is made to have MCPL join our system, we will welcome them and work to help them provide the best possible service to their patrons.”

Marathon County’s Extension, Education and Economic Development Committee will discuss MCPL’s possible transition to SCLS, and offer the opportunity for public comment, at one of its upcoming meetings.

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