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Marina Library: A community resource


Mary Housel

Mary Housel, managing librarian at the
Marina branch of the Monterey County
Free Libraries system

Since it opened four years ago, the Marina branch of the Monterey County Free Libraries system has become a community focal point, a place for gathering, learning, and relaxing with a good book or magazine.

Residents are drawn in by the building’s open, expansive architecture, featuring high ceilings and a lot of light. A fireplace warms a reading lounge, computers flank a homework center, and a broad selection of reading, audio, and video materials lines the shelves.

To that collection, Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula has added a section dedicated to health and wellness, as well as a magnifying reader for the visually impaired. The materials were purchased through a $20,000 grant from the hospital’s Community Benefit Program, which provides financial support to dozens of local organizations to achieve shared health-related goals.

Mary Housel, managing librarian, worked with other library staff to select materials that address a wide spectrum of subjects, including brain function and mental health, weight management and healthy eating, childbirth and parenting, yoga and other exercise, growing children and aging parents, and stress and relaxation. The collection is made up of adult, teen, and children’s books, including some large-print items and books in Spanish, Vietnamese, and Korean; DVDs; and talking books. Library staff also brought in titles related to contemporary issues in the media, including Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things, which addresses a topic that has garnered a lot of attention through
reality television.

“The public expresses a real need to help themselves, to discover their own healthy practices, and to access information on their own,” says Housel. “It is our mission to provide information to help people succeed in school, work, and their personal lives. Establishing an area in the library that enables health literacy and encourages exploration of vital health and medical topics promotes understanding and action, and enriches lives. Community Hospital’s new collection is contributing to that.

“By offering resources like this,” says Housel, “we’re able to help people help themselves. We can provide the most recent publications in the health field and, in some cases, provide life-changing information for our patrons. These materials are a reflection of the community’s health interests and keep the library on the edge of what’s happening in society — what we’re learning, accepting, embracing. We’re feeling the pulse of humanity. This is my favorite part of my job: teaching people how to get information and find their way in the library to enrich their lives.”

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