Karen Mahar Named New Director of Ocean City Free Public Library

first_imgKaren Mahar succeeds Chris Maloney as director of the Ocean City Free Public Library in Ocean City, NJ.Karen Mahar last week was named the new director of the Ocean City Free Public Library.Mahar fills a void left by the unexpected death of Chris Maloney at age 45 in December 2013. Maloney had helped the library continue a transformation into an invaluable community resource, not just for printed books, but for online resources, digital music and movies, computer services, community meetings and a vast array of special programs and activities.The library will remain in capable hands in Mahar, who preceded Maloney as director from 1993 to 2004 and returned as a senior librarian and program coordinator in February 2012.She said she plans to “continue the excellent services, programs and customer service that Chris had instilled here.”Mahar, 50, was chosen after a year-long, in-house search that involved the Civil Service process.The decision to hire Mahar was unanimous, according to Jennifer Shirk, president of the Library Board of Trustees.Shirk said the amount of positive feedback already received from the community has validated the board’s decision, and she said the choice has kept staff morale positive.Mahar is an Ocean City resident and mother of three children at Ocean City High School and Intermediate School. She left the library in 2004 to raise her children and returned after her husband, Jim Mahar, died in 2011.Mahar grew up in Ocean City. She graduated from Our Lady of Mercy Academy and Villanova University (with a degree in communications). She returned to Villanova to earn a master’s degree in library science.When she first came to work in Ocean City, the Headley Library was located at Sixth Street and Ocean Avenue, adjacent to Ocean City High School. The facility was populated by little more than books, card catalogs and typewriters.Mahar was part of the move to the library’s new location at the Ocean City Community Center at 17th Street and Simpson Avenue, and she oversaw much of the modernization of the facility.The Library Journal awarded the Ocean City Free Public Library its highest 5-star rating in a national ranking of libraries for 2014. Of the 7,586 public libraries nationwide that were ranked this year, only 85 were given a five-star rating, placing Ocean City in the top one percent. Ratings are determined by community support, number of library visits, items borrowed, program attendance, computer usage and cost per capita.She’s looking forward to partnering with the city and Chamber of Commerce to provide still more services and programming for all Ocean City residents, businesses and visitors.“The hard-copy book is still alive and well here in Ocean City,” Mahar said. “It’s a very literate community.”But she said she’s committed to keeping the library evolving with everything from crafting classes to online reference databases. The library will partner with the Ocean City Theatre Company on a program that pairs acting and children’s literature. It will join forces with the Wetlands Institute and the school district on other programs. And a new “bookmobile” will be able to bring library services to community events and to members of the community unable to get to the library.Mahar thanked Leslie Clarke, who served as interim director during a “tough year, physically and mentally” following Maloney’s death.She also said she and the community can be proud of the entire library staff, and her job will be easier because of their passion and professionalism.She said Maloney always loved the idea of “the whole world under one roof” at the Community Center, and it’s a concept she’ll try to preserve.last_img

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