ARCANUM — Marilyn Walden has decided to retire from Arcanum Public Library by the end of the month.
A 30-year employee of the facility, she has been its director for the past 16 years.
“My father has been having a lot of health care issues and I need to help out caring for him,” said Walden, the daughter of Gene Miller and Eloise Miller, who died two years ago.
Walden started out as circulation clerk at Arcanum.
“A lot has happened here in the last 30 year,” said the soon-to-be retiree.
Before coming to work in Arcanum, she was a page at the Dayton Montgomery County Library System in New Lebanon, where she grew up.
“I was there a short while and went to Greenville Library before I had my last child,” Walden said.
She was a circulation clerk for a couple of years when Avon Roberts was about to retire. He asked Walden to take on his position as associate director and she obliged.
She said the library has been at six locations in town; the first started in the room upstairs at Smith’s downtown. It was destroyed by fire in 1959.
“For awhile it was in the Kincaid House and it is now in the Ivester House, having moved here in the early 1960s,” she said. “We added on in 1994 and 1995, doubling the size of the library.”
Under her leadership, the library has grown.
“Three years ago, we joined a consortium, the only one of its kind in Ohio called Evergreen,” she said. “We now have 11 libraries in central Ohio. It gives our patrons more access to more material. This year our consortium offered an app. Patrons can go to an app store and ask for the Cool Library app, and the patron will have an access account on there. It’s right on your phone.”
She said the library has also instituted more programs, besides the morning StoryTimes on Monday mornings, there is the AfterSchool program from 3;45 to 4:15 p.m. and also added Tweens and Teens on Thursdays after school.
“We added eBooks a few years ago, pre-dating us joining the consortium,” she said. “We an access that through our app as well.”
The library is hosting a gingerbread house contest this week.
“Our youth group will be doing it,” she said. “People have to pick up the base at the circ desk and turn in their gingerbread houses today through Wednesday. The board will be judging them on Thursdays. Winning houses will be exhibited in our display case through December.”
She also noted that the annual cookbook the board and staff put together each year is available.
‘“It’s a our thank-you for your patronage,” she said. “We create our own and it’s free.”
Walden went on to say the library has begun having Cocoa Coffee and Coloring once a month for adults, men and women, with the next time being Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
She also reported that staff member Natalie Lowry has been going into schools [Arcanum and New Madison] once a month to make a presentation on whatever the school needs.
“We’ve always wanted to do something with schools,” Walden said.
She herself has been known to give presentations. Just recently she talked to the Criterion Club, which she has done before, and she has spoken to the Sunnyside group.
“This summer, at the library, we started a crochet class. It is held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday,” she said.
Her job as director has her overseeing maintenance of the building and property; human resources; purchasing of materials and supplies; overseeing public relations and reporting to the board and to the state.
Walden’s favorite authors are Clive Cussler, Alton Gansky, Sue Grafton, Robin Jones Gunn, Gilbert Morris, Ann Rinaldi, Joel Rosenberg, Francine Rivers and Lori Wick. Favorite genres of hers are historical fiction; true life adventures; intrigue/spies/espionage; history/human interest; WWII/Holocaust; Revolutionary War; and Civil
“I like the Hunger Games series of books,” she added.
Serving on her staff are Associate Director Peggy Grim; Administrative Assistant Becky Stockslager, Amanda Sowers, Holly Besecker, Sue Shank, Linda Mancz, Dawn Knepshield, Storyteller Kristy Netherly, Peg Wohlgamuth, Michelle Mikesell, Chris Nealeigh, Johanna Hill, Natalie Lowry, Page/Computer Aide Megan Davis and Custodian Kevin Stockslager.
Serving on the board of trustees are President Paul Myers, Vice President Jan Roestamadji, Secretary Jean Miller and Barb Garrison, Mark Wight, Randy O’Dell and Rose Lambert. Fiscal officer for the library is Deb Dynes, who also reports to the board.
Walden, the former Marilyn Miller, graduated from Dixie School in 1969. She and husband John have been married 40 years after having met at a Little Church of the Brethren in New Lebanon. He is a toolmaker at HARCO.
They now attend the Castine Church of the Brethren and are the parents of four daughters, Tammy (Don) Guthrie and Tara (Travis) Hadfield, both of Utah, Shari Holloway of Tennessee and Rachel (Dan) Brown of New Madiosn. There are four grandchildren with one on the way; and four great-grandchildren with two more on the way.
What brought the Waldens to Arcanum?
“We wanted to live in the country and found it here, so we moved here from Englewood,” she said.
Walden said she has belonged to the Bible Study Fellowship in Richmond, Indiana, since a year or two before she began working for the Arcanum Library.
Succeeding Walden at the library will be Curtis Schafer of the Russia/Houston, Ohio, area.
“He has been head of the reference department of Piqua Library the past five years,” she said. “He started Nov. 1.”
In the meantime, a retirement party is set for 2 to 7 p.m. Dec. 15 at the library to honor Walden.
“I’ve enjoyed it,” said Walden. “There are many things I’ll probably miss…like going through a new box of books and be the first to put my name on a book. It’s like Christmas. I will miss the people, of course, not only the staff but people coming in here.”
She concluded, “We’re pleased with the support we had for our levy, which passed very well., 2011 was the first year ever to have a levy on the ballot. We had a continuing levy on this time. The board and I worked with both of those campaigns.”
This writer may be reached at 937-569-4315. Follow her on Facebook and join the conversation and get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.
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