Polson’s library director to retire in Jan. from 30-year career
POLSON — After 30 years, Marilyn Trosper is calling it quits, but not without a lot of fond memories.
Trosper, who began working at Polson’s library in November 1987, has been its director for 28 ½ years. Her last day will be Jan. 5, 2018.
An Idaho Falls native, Trosper recalled fond memories from her teen years of time spent at her hometown library. “I would sit and watch (librarians) and absorb the atmosphere,” she said. That led to her getting a part-time job there in the summer.
She remembers getting letters from the librarian — who had to go out of town in the summer for college classes — instructing her on what to do in her new job.
“Libraries and reading have been a lifelong pursuit for me,” Trosper said, noting she maintains contact with the librarian, Jan Boyce.
Trosper met her husband, Polson native Brad Trosper, when he was taking a six-month course nearby at the U.S. Navy’s nuclear propulsion plant. They got married soon after and moved to Long Beach, California. From there, his career took them to Bremerton, Washington, Kalispell, Bozeman and Colstrip before they moved to Polson.
Once here, the Trospers helped with the Cub Scouts, she said. When she found out that a Scout and his family were moving, she applied for the Scout’s mother’s position at the library and was hired as a part-time library aide. She worked in that position for 1 ½ years before being promoted to director.
There wasn’t much technology in Polson’s library when she started.
“I used to type all the little library cards,” Trosper said.
“We got our first computer in 1991,” she said. “I’ve seen all the progress.”
Today the library has a total of 38 computers - 14 for staff and 24 for public use.
She believes the changes are positive.
“It’s part of contemporary society. You either learn to use it and use it wisely or you fall behind,” she said.
Trosper helped the library transition from being city-funded to a library district funded by property taxes in 2010.
“It took us 11 years to get there. We had a couple of near misses,” she said, noting that the first attempt came up 311 signatures short of qualifying for the ballot and the next effort in 2008 lost by 121 votes.
She explained that the district is funded by 11.14-mill property tax levy. For 2017, the district received $405,299 in taxes. In 2016, it was $468,249.
When she started in 1987, Trosper was one of only two employees. Now the North Lake County Public Library, as it has been known since 2010, has 11 employees, including seven full-time.
The library relied on donations before a library district was formed.
“I had to look for ways to have a bigger bang for the buck,” she said. “The library has always thrived in a consortium-type of environment.”
Some examples include a circulation system that the library was involved in creating in 2000. The library was one of 17 involved in that effort, which took two years to come to fruition. “We share the software and pay an annual fee to cover expenses,” she said.
That system, Montana Shared Catalog, is now used by 180 libraries across the state, including public, school, special and academic libraries.
“Our consortium is like a poster child for others,” she said, noting it is headquartered in Helena.
The library also partners with 30 others in a courier service that shares books and other library services and is part of MontanaLibrary2Go which allows the transfer and use of downloadable audiobooks and ebooks.
When Trosper started, she was responsible for the children’s Story Time program, which she ran for 10 years. She notes that the library consistently has one of the highest participation levels for library youth programs in the state.
“I’ve seen children who used to come to my Story Time grow up, and they’re now parents and bring their children to Story Time,” she said. “It’s really rewarding.”
Trosper said she’s worked with some incredible people over the years, such as Mary O’Brien, an administrative assistant who recently retired after 19 years as a library employee and who volunteered for 10 years before that.
In good hands
Trosper believes the library will be in good hands when she leaves. Abbi Dooley, a Polson native who has been the library’s assistant director since March 2016, will be taking over.
Trosper, who has served on Montana State Library Association committees over the years and was named their “librarian of the year” in 2011, is looking forward to traveling with her husband to visit their two children and four grandchildren in Bozeman and Norfolk, Virginia.
A lover of cross-stitch needlework, Trosper said she plans to learn how to sew, and, she said, “I’m going to have flower beds I can actually take care of.”