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Spotlight: The Marion Public Library

The Community History Archives of The Marion Public Library contains a vast variety of content, including newspapers, directories, and abstracts from records of undertakers and embalmers. The archive is one of the most diverse collections Advantage has had the privilege to digitize.

Marion, Iowa has a rich and fascinating history that dates back to the 1800s. The city was founded in 1839, and its early settlers were predominantly of German and Irish descent. The town was named after Francis Marion, and was officially incorporated in 1867.


“People love [the archive]! [They are] very happy to access it online, not only for people in the area but people out of state.”

~Sue Gerth, Marion Public Library

The city experienced a period of rapid growth during the late 1800s and early 1900s, thanks in part to the development of the railroads. Marion became a hub for transportation and industry, and its population continued to grow. Today, Marion is a thriving community with a population of around 40,000 people. Marion is located just northeast of Cedar Rapids, IA.

One of the most treasured institutions in Marion is the Marion Public Library. The library was first established in 1901 and has been an important part of the community ever since. Over the years, the library has undergone numerous changes and renovations to keep up with the times. Recently, the Marion Public Library opened its new building, which the Advantage Team was able to tour. We were in awe of the incredible technological advancements, and the various ways they are now able to serve their community. It is a fantastic addition to the city of Marion.

Over the years, the Marion Public Library has digitized a large variety of content. When asked why the library made this decision, Sue Gerth, the Readers Advisory & Collection Strategy Manager, explained that the library had a large volume of print materials that needed a place to go. The old library had very little space, and many of the items were fragile. Digitization was the perfect solution.

According to Gerth, patrons have been thrilled with the digitized collection. People love being able to access the materials online, not just those in the area but people from all over the country as well. The greatest benefit of having the historical content digitized is the increased access for more people.

Digitization is a fantastic tool for libraries to share materials that may be too fragile or one-of-a-kind to have out for regular patron use. The Marion Public Library’s digitization project is a perfect example of how technology can be used to preserve the city’s unique history and increase access to important materials.

Marion, Iowa is a city with a rich and storied past. From its early settlers to its current residents, Marion has been shaped by a variety of factors, including: industry, transportation, and community spirit. The Marion Public Library is an important part of this community, and its digitization project is just one example of how the library is evolving to meet the needs of its patrons.

Advantage believes strongly in building lasting partnerships, which is why we enter into them with the intent of shouldering our fair share. We take the burden off of the community for the ongoing costs associated with storage, hosting, development, and maintenance of their Community History Archive. We are proud to participate actively in the community’s efforts to make their collective history more accessible.

If you are outside of Marion and would like to see YOUR local history online, please contact your local library, newspaper publisher, genealogical society, historical society, or educational institution, and encourage them to learn more about creating a Community History Archive like the one the Marion Public Library has created for theirs. Ask them to e-mail us at, or have them contact us at (855) 303-2727.

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