May 11, 2020
Schools, libraries and other educational institutions have been closed for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but some Marathon County Public Library (MCPL) staff members found a way to get much-needed books into the hands of area students during the closure.
Over the past several weeks, Stephanie M., a library assistant at MCPL’s Wausau Headquarters, has arranged for children’s books to be donated to local school districts, as well as to the United Way of Marathon County. The donated books were removed from the library’s collection and would normally have been donated to the Friends of the Marathon County Public Library to be sold at one of the group’s quarterly book sales. But since those sales won’t be held in the near future due to the ongoing pandemic, Martell said giving the books to local schoolchildren was the next logical idea.
“After getting approval from managers, I started calling school districts in Marathon County and was soon boxing up items for districts to pick up,” Stephanie said.
The idea for the initiative came from Tara H., MCPL’s Youth Collection Development Specialist, Stephanie said. Tara was inspired after attending a webinar where other libraries mentioned they were donating their used materials to schoolchildren in their local areas.
As Tara continued to remove more and more children’s materials from MCPL’s nine locations (a process known as “weeding," where older materials are removed to make room for new ones), Stephanie arranged for the books to be distributed throughout the Athens, Edgar, Marathon City, Mosinee, DC Everest, Spencer and Stratford school districts.
As of July 27, 2020, MCPL has donated more than 7,000 books to local school districts (at the time this article was originally published May 11, the library had donated 3,500 books - over 100 full boxes). Some districts have handed the books out to families who have visited local school lunch pickup sites while others have given the books to students who visit school to pick up other materials.
Another 250 books have been donated to the United Way, which the organization plans to distribute to different locations around the area.
“This has been a great way for us to clean out some of our used materials, keep the load lighter for the Friends of the Library and get books into the hands of children,” Stephanie said.
The Marathon County Library has nine locations across the county, including in Wausau, Athens, Edgar, Hatley, Marathon City, Mosinee, Rothschild, Spencer, and Stratford. All locations closed to the public on March 17 due to COVID-19, but currently plan to reopen on May 26, when Wisconsin’s current Safer at Home order expires.
image credit: MCPL