Retiring Director Remembers Ten Years of MCPL

Marilyn Wood is pictured holding an award

In her ten years at MCPL, Director Marilyn Wood led Library staff through many changes, accomplishments, and awards, but nothing quite as challenging as a global pandemic.

“The past two years were challenging and scary, but rewarding,” she said. “It was humbling to watch the community in their own personal struggles, as we worked to meet their needs in new ways. Our staff were ultimately very creative and dedicated and I’m really proud of how we pulled through.”

Marilyn is set to retire on May 6. At the top of her list of achievements is the planning and construction of the forthcoming Southwest Branch Library. Marilyn has led every step of the planning process from gathering initial community input to site acquisition and the building’s design.

The Branch is scheduled to open in early 2023. Although she’s sad that she won’t be present in an official capacity when the branch opens, Marilyn said “Planning for a new branch is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and that’s a legacy I’m really privileged to be a part of.”

Marilyn was born and raised in Brown County and holds a BA and MLS degree from Indiana University. She began her career at the Indiana University Libraries, then worked at Harvard University for 17 years, before returning home and beginning her tenure at Monroe County Public Library as Associate Director in 2012. In 2015, Marilyn was promoted to Library Director.

Marilyn named the Power of Words with John Lewis author talk as another highlight of her career. In 2015, United States Representative John Lewis and local graphic illustrator Nate Powell spoke on their award-winning graphic novel series, March, as part of the Friends of the Library’s annual Power of Words author visit series. Marilyn recalled how special it was to support the event.

“Listening to John Lewis and his story of voting rights was an unforgettable experience,” she said. “It gives me chills just thinking about it.” The event was recorded by Community Access Television Services. You can view it here.

Marilyn also singled out the elimination of overdue fines from her list of accomplishments. In March 2020, at the onset of the pandemic, the Library waived all unpaid overdue fines and collection agency fees, and eliminated fines for all late returns moving forward. “It was exciting to reintroduce people who had lost access to the Library while reducing barriers for future users.”

Upon Marilyn’s retirement, the Library’s current associate director, Grier Carson, will take on the role of director. “I am delighted and confident to pass the baton to Grier,” said Marilyn. “His outstanding knowledge and fondness for our community, the Library's mission, and our staff will serve the Library very well into the future.”

Marilyn hasn’t made many specific plans for retirement life. In the immediate future, she’s excited to spend the summer with her grandkids and mess around in the garden. She said she’ll miss her friends and colleagues, “but most of all, I’ll miss the engagement with the community that is so much a part of what and why we do what we do.”

Stay tuned for a blog on incoming Director Grier Carson.