Wausau Pilot & Review

Editor’s note: Business of the Week is a sponsored feature that shares the stories of locally-owned and operated businesses in the Wausau area, highlighting the products and services they offer and the ways they contribute to the metro area’s unique flavor. Learn how to feature your business by emailing christina@wausaupilotandreview.com.

MCPL Director Leah Giordano (Contributed photo)

This week’s featured business is the Marathon County Public Library, which has nine locations including the downtown headquarters, 300 N. First St. Wausau. This organization has consistently provided free library services to central Wisconsin residents since 1907 with more than 350,000 physical materials now in its collection. Visitors to the library will find hardcover and paperback books, audio books, music CDs, DVDs, video games and much more. When you factor in the materials that patrons can borrow from other libraries in the system that MCPL belongs to, cardholders have access to over 1 million physical items. 

In addition to the Wausau library, the system has branches in Athens, Edgar, Hatley, Marathon City, Mosinee, Rothschild, Spencer and Stratford with a wide range of learning opportunities and community enhancing services at your fingertips. Library Director Leah Giordano and Library Marketing Specialist Dan Richter work tirelessly with the rest of the team to ensure each visitor has a wealth of information and rich reading to choose from, with special events held regularly, plenty of free instruction for children and adults and free internet access to all. What’s more, the library can come to you, whether you access materials virtually or take advantage of their unique program that connects people who are home bound due to illness or injury with materials delivered directly to their home – at no charge.

Richter said the public library is an integral part of any community.

Dan Richter from the Marathon County Public Library (Christina Kimball/Wausau Pilot & Review)

“Not only does it give people of all backgrounds equal access to books and other materials for educational and entertainment purposes, it also helps people better their lives and connect with one another,” Richter said. “The people and resources at MCPL can help someone as they earn a degree in school, create a resume and apply for a job, find housing, pick up new skill or hobby, learn more about local history or about the greater world around them. In many parts of Marathon County, internet access is spotty or nonexistent, so having computers and internet access available in those communities is of vital importance as well.”

Here, discover the myriad services and rich offerings at the library, some of which will undoubtedly surprise you. Plan a visit soon – you won’t be disappointed!

See inside: Scroll for photos

Tell me about the different sections you have in the library.

The library is divided up by age-level and by material type. At our Wausau Headquarters, we have a first-floor children’s area that contains all the materials for kids from birth through middle school – board books, picture books, chapter books, CDs and DVDs, plus a 650-gallon aquarium! The first floor is also home to our Young Adult section containing fiction and nonfiction materials for teens and young adults, as well as computers for students to use for homework or gaming. Also available on the first floor for adults are magazines and newspapers, DVDs, video games, music CDs and book club kits. 

MCPL Wausau’s second floor is more adult-focused, with the adult fiction, nonfiction and large print collections, as well as over 20 public computers and a circulating art gallery featuring artwork for checkout.

Our eight branch libraries have many of these same sections, albeit at a reduced scale since they’re smaller than our Wausau Headquarters.

Besides the obvious, books, what can people check out and take home?

When people think of a library they, of course, think of books. But MCPL has so much more than that! In addition to traditional hardcover and paperback books, we also have audiobooks, movies and TV series on DVD, music CDs, newspapers and magazines, tablets, a handheld scanner and even artwork that people can check out and take home with them! We’re also in the early stages of exploring the feasibility of circulating WIFI hotspots to the public. We’re constantly looking for ways to meet the diverse needs of the public and to stay current with the demands of modern life and the tools people need to be successful. 

What kinds of additional programs do you offer for kids and adults? And how do you decide what makes the most sense for the community you serve?

Across our nine locations, we provide educational classes and workshops that teach adults how to use different programs and technology; have crafting events where kids, teens and adults can learn new hands-on skills and techniques; offer performances by musicians and other performers to entertain kids and families; host movie screenings for both adults and kids; have regular story times that promote literacy and learning; and bring in experts, authors and other speakers to lead lectures, presentations and workshops on a number of subjects.

It’s important for us to engage with our patrons by offering events that are educational, cultural, entertaining, or a combination of the three, and to keep those events free of charge so that they’re accessible to everyone in the communities we serve. We take into account timeliness (what is relevant right now), what topics are of local interest, the availability and affordability of speakers and performers, as well as feedback and requests from the public. We also try to identify opportunities where we can offer events and programming that other organizations are not.

What about services?

MCPL offers a number of services that people may not know about. Our Homebound Service allows patrons who cannot visit the library due to injury, illness and other circumstances to have materials delivered to their place of residence free of charge. This way, patrons can still freely access the library even if they are unable to visit us in person. 

At MCPL Wausau, our staff offers passport application services every Wednesday and every other Saturday (upcoming dates 12/31, 1/14, 1/28, etc.), and we have a notary public on staff who can notarize real estate papers, auto titles, wills and other documents free of charge. MCPL Wausau also has study rooms that members of the public can reserve to work on group projects and many of our locations have meeting rooms that individuals and groups can book to hold trainings and meetings. These rooms are all free to reserve.

Is the Dewey Decimal System still a thing at the library?

It is! The Dewey Decimal System is used to organize nonfiction books into categories such as religion (200s), science (500s), art (700s) and history (900s), and then into more specific sub-categories, like cookbooks, true crime, poetry and travel guides. Unlike fiction, which is organized by the author’s last name, nonfiction is all about the subject of that book and where that subject fits into the Dewey Decimal System. It can seem overwhelming at first, but it’s easy to get the hang of!

How much research expertise do librarians have?

In today’s world, information is just a click or tap away. The challenge, however, lies in information literacy, or the ability to determine what information is useful and credible, and where to find it. That’s where librarians are an invaluable resource. To be a degreed librarian, a person must obtain a Masters degree in Library and Information Science and part of this schooling focuses on research and information literacy skills. We have nearly 10 degreed librarians across our nine locations, as well as staff members who have backgrounds in teaching and education, journalism, IT and business management. Our staff is incredibly adept at answering research questions in-person or via phone, online chat or email. And if we can’t find the answer for you, we’ll direct you to a source who can better answer your question.

Tell us about your online lending system. How can I borrow books digitally?

Through our digital catalog, MCPL cardholders can check out nearly 4 million e-books, audiobooks and magazines . These items are checked out through the free Libby app and can be borrowed from the comfort of home, or anywhere else you have an internet connection! Another perk? These digital materials return themselves when your lending period is up, which means you never accumulate any fines! All you need is your library card; a smartphone, tablet or computer; and an Internet connection!

How important is the public library to the community as a whole?

The public library is an integral part of any community. Not only does it give people of all backgrounds equal access to books and other materials for educational and entertainment purposes, it also helps people better their lives and connect with one another. The people and resources at MCPL can help someone as they earn a degree in school, create a resume and apply for a job, find housing, pick up new skill or hobby, learn more about local history or about the greater world around them. In many parts of Marathon County, internet access is spotty or nonexistent, so having computers and internet access available in those communities is of vital importance as well.

What do you wish more people knew about the Marathon County Public Library?

MCPL is a thriving community resource that’s more than just books. Many people are surprised to find out that they can check out e-books and audiobooks for free via a smartphone app, or that we have things like tablets and artwork available for checkout. If you’re someone who hasn’t visited one of our locations in awhile, you’ll probably be amazed by what we all have. It’s also free to sign up for a library card, so why not stop in and see what we have to offer?

Connect with the Marathon County Public Library

Locations:

  • Wausau Headquarters: 300 N. First St., Wausau – 715-261-7200
  • Athens Branch: 221 Caroline St., Athens – 715-257-7292
  • Edgar Branch: 224 S. Third Ave., Edgar – 715-352-3155
  • Hatley Branch: 435 Curtis Ave., Hatley – 715-446-3537
  • Marathon Branch: 515 Washington St., Marathon City – 715-443-2775
  • Mosinee Branch: 123 Main St., Mosinee – 715-693-2144
  • Rothschild Branch: 211 Grand Ave., Rothschild – 715-359-6208
  • Spencer Branch: 105 S. Park St. Spencer – 715-659-3996
  • Stratford Branch – 213201 Scholar St., Stratford – 715-687-4420

For a complete list of hours and contacts, visit this page

Explore the catalog from new adult fiction to nonfiction, large print, young adult, teen and children’s books and more here

Visit the event calendar here or watch for events on the Wausau Pilot & Review Events page