Library director ready for life’s next chapter

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Beacon Falls Library Director Marsha Durley stocks shelves at the library July 15. Durley is retiring July 26 after 14 years as director. –LUKE MARSHALL
Beacon Falls Library Director Marsha Durley stocks shelves at the library July 15. Durley is retiring July 26 after 14 years as director. –LUKE MARSHALL

BEACON FALLS — The town’s library director is getting closer to checking out.

Library Director Marsha Durley, 67, will retire from the Beacon Falls Library on July 26 after more than 14 years of service.

While Beacon Falls may be the last library she works in, it wasn’t the first.

Durley’s career began in the Plymouth Public Library in 1996. She worked in Plymouth for four months before moving to the Beardsley and Memorial Library in Winsted as the head of adult circulation.

During her time working at the Beardsley Library, Durley gained the training that would lead her to become Beacon Falls’ head librarian.

“They lost four directors in the two and a half years I was there and being the next in command during all the in-between times, I was it, I was the acting director,” Durley said.

Durley said one of the biggest challenges she faced when she came to Beacon Falls was getting the word out about the library. She said about half the residents didn’t even know the town had a library.

“So that became a challenge for me to provide the type of service and create the type of marketing to get the word out to the people here in town that, yes, in fact, we did have a library and that we were able to provide for them anything that any other library in the state could,” Durley said. “So that’s kind of been my mission ever since. And over the 14 years I’ve been here, we’ve managed to more than quadruple annual circulation. We went from being a little sleepy-town library to being a full-service library that the people down here really depend on.”

Durley said she attributes the library’s upswing in popularity to hard work, a great staff, the support of the town government and the Friends of the Beacon Falls Library organization.

“Some of the people that came on board back in 2000 are still going strong, and I couldn’t have done it without them, quite honestly,” Durley said.

Durley feels libraries have the power to draw people from all walks of life.

“There’s a universal interest in learning. There’s a universal interest in reading,” Durley said. “Public libraries are the way to go because you can get most anything you want today in the public library without it costing you anything. It’s one of the last best bargains around.”

Now that her time at the library is coming to an end, Durley is looking forward to spending time working around her house in Plymouth.

Durley said she often brought her work home, such as newsletters and book orders, which led her to put aside chores around her house.  

“I’d like to get reacquainted with my home and my yard, which have been seriously neglected over the years,” Durley said

In addition to working on her home, Durley said she’s planning to spend more time with her grandchildren.

“I can help out there, with the little ones, while mom and dad work,” Durley said.

While she is close to retiring, the library’s Board of Trustees is working hard to find her replacement.

According to Durley there were approximately a dozen applicants for the position. Four of them made it through to the interview stage, she said. Durley was not sure when her replacement would be hired.

Kenneth Priestley, chairman of the Library Board, could not be reached for comment as of this post. In a letter to the editor submitted to the Citizen’s News earlier this month, board members said Beacon Falls is lucky to have had someone as talented and knowledgeable as Durley leading the library.

“Marsha has done an exemplary job in leading our library into the future. It is not just a building filled with books, it is an integral part of the community,” the letter read.

A special meeting of the library board is scheduled for Monday. The agenda includes discussion and possibly a vote on the hiring of a new library director.

Durley is grateful to have spent the majority of her library career in Beacon Falls.

“It’s going to be hard next Friday to walk out of here because the memories are just so strong and the experiences have been wonderful. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to have worked,” Durley said.