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First New Library in Decades Opens in the Keys

The new $8.4 million Monroe County Public Library branch in Marathon just opened.

The public libraries in Monroe County are centers of information but were built for a time before information works like it does now — on the internet and cell phones.

“They’re all retrofitted for today’s technology, where this one is built to accommodate not only today’s technology but tomorrow’s,” said Kimberly Matthews, Monroe County’s library director.

By “this one,” Matthews means the new $8.4 million facility in Marathon, one of five branches in the Keys. It’s got a raised floor system to allow for easy transfer of data and power systems around the building. The furniture and bookshelves are also moveable, so the space can be flexible.

And it’s got lots of new technology to allow for self-checkout, a Redbox-like system for DVDs and lockers out front that are available 24/7.

“If you have a non-conventional schedule, or you don’t have time to come to the building or your favorite time to come to the library is 2 a.m., now you can go online, you can place a book a DVD on hold and ask for it to be outside in the locker,” Matthews said.

The library also has a game room where only teens are allowed, as well as small meeting spaces wired for remote connectivity.

Monroe County Library Director Kimberly Matthews at the new Marathon Library.

Nancy Klingener Monroe County Library Director Kimberly Matthews says the new library is built to accomodate today’s technology — and the future’s.

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