April 7th, 2021
April is a month of change. As new shoots poke through the ground and leaves green out everywhere, this hopeful month heralds warmth, May flowers and a time for moving forward. So even though there is bittersweet news at Monroe Free Library this month as Executive Director Marilyn McIntosh moves on to retire, there is also cause for celebration of her extraordinary career and time to look forward, standing on her legacy of excellence.
“I have loved working for the Monroe community and being part of an institution that adds tremendous value to every citizen from cradle to grave,” says Marilyn as she looks back on her work at MFL. “It has been an honor to serve as a steward of the Monroe Free Library, which is such an important asset to the community.”
Marilyn McIntosh has been an integral part of the Monroe Free Library for 37 years. With a Master’s degree in Information Science and Policy from the University of Albany and a Public Library Administration Certificate from Long Island University, she has steered the library through almost four decades of change and growth, and has been recognized by the NYS Senate for her commitment, dedication and highly professional service to the community the library serves.
Mcintosh (center) with New York State Senator William J. Larkin (left)
Named Executive Director of MFL in 1994, Marilyn wasted no time in becoming the first public librarian to take advantage of the new Education Law 414 of 1995. That law enabled public libraries to put their budgets up for public vote for the first time. It changed the way Association and Municipal libraries are funded, and with this change, taxpayers have direct impact on how much funding they want their libraries to have, and it provides for stabilized funding. This process enabled Marilyn to gradually increase the library’s budget from $205,000 to $1.3 million over the years, keeping up with the needs of a rapidly growing community. As a result of her work and an intense year-long campaign to implement ‘414’, Marilyn became a sought after speaker on the subject by many area library boards.
“Taking advantage of the 414 law alone has ensured the library has a stable budget to allow for the growth of library services to the community,” said MFL Board President Patricia Shanley. “Marilyn realized its potential and took early advantage of it. It’s this kind of forward thinking which defines her library career and which has made it such a pleasure to work with her.”
As MFL’s director, Marilyn introduced several internal initiatives which changed the library from a small country library into a fully professional organization. Among them were developing the library’s website, outreach programs and creating a brand. She developed the library’s first organizational chart and operations policies; established departments; set up the financial record keeping system, and instituted a yearly independent audit. Through careful financial management, she was able to save enough money to buy the adjacent property at 40 Millpond Parkway while avoiding the need for loans or tax increases, all without scrimping on services to the public. Marilyn also worked to position the library as an integral partner in Monroe community affairs through her involvement as a founding member, secretary and treasurer of the Greater Monroe Chamber of Commerce.
As an active participant in the Ramapo Catskill Library System (RCLS), which serves Orange, Rockland and Sullivan counties, Marilyn chaired the RCLS Automated Network Services Committee (ANSER) and led the search for, chose and implemented the new integrated library system. She was on the RCLS Board for six years, chairing and serving as secretary of its Directors’ Association and chairing the Direct Access Committee, which monitors the equity of local inter-library usage.
McIntosh speaks to the crowd at the library's grand reopening in 2014
In 2014 and 2015, Marilyn’s management of the $1.9M renovation of the library's main building at 44 Mill Pond Parkway was a major accomplishment. She secured four important grants for the project, including a legislative grant from Senator Larkin for $50,000; a New York State grant for just over $239,000; $30,000 for new windows, and $44,000 for a new HVAC system. In addition, her shrewd management of taxpayers’ money earmarked $700,000 in unallocated funds over the years, which became significant funding for the renovation. Within the space of a year, Marilyn oversaw the library’s move twice, first to temporary quarters during construction in March of 2014, then the move back to the main building in February, 2015. The grand re-opening, ribbon cutting and “Welcome Home Celebration” for the new and expanded library was held on March 18, attended by the public, local officials and many library patrons and supporters. Never one to stop moving forward, Marilyn has most recently secured grants for the backyard deck project, and for tearing down the building next door and adding two public parking spaces.
Thanks to her vigilant fiscal management, MFL looks forward to a secure future of continued growth and excellent service. The Board of Directors gratefully recognizes Marilyn’s dedication and outstanding career at the library, and her contributions to the Monroe-Harriman community. She has undoubtedly won the esteem and affection of her colleagues and the public. The MFL Board and staff will certainly miss her enthusiastic leadership, but we wish her great happiness as she retires this month.