Marty Ferriby leaves Hackley Public Library a better place upon her retirement

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– PHOTOS BY CYNTHIA PRICE

By Cynthia Price

Beautiful Hackley Public Library was buzzing with activity last Friday afternoon and early evening as dozens of people came to wish Director Marty (Martha) Ferriby well on her upcoming retirement.
 
In her 24 years at the helm of the prominent Muskegon institution, Ferriby has modernized and expanded the programming, as well as maintained the beautiful structure, of the 120-year-old bequest from philanthropist Charles Hackley.

Moreover, she has made sure that people from all walks of life feel comfortable there.

“[Ferriby] works with a diverse group of library users: old-timers who grew up in central Muskegon, moved out and became financially successful, but return to patronize the Library; teens doing homework and using computers; small children enjoying story times; unemployed and homeless persons who wait on the front steps for the Library to open. All of these are made to feel equally welcome and can draw on the skills of a staff trained well by Marty, who is highly visible throughout the building.” says the nomination for an “I Love My Librarian” award for Ferriby, submitted by the Friends of Hackley Public Library.

Ferriby won that award in 2011, one of a handful chosen from over 2000 nominations sent to the American Library Association (ALA).
Her brother Peter is also a librarian, a university librarian at Sacred Heart in Fairfield, Connecticut. He attended both the ALA ceremony in New York City – where it was revealed that HPL visits had increased 365% from 2001 to 2011 – and the one last week at Hackley.

Ferriby says that she thinks both were drawn to the field because “we both like reading and we both like making a difference.” They came by it honestly because they had parents who loved reading ... and grandparents ... and great-grandparents.

“My great-grandma learned English at the Grand Rapids Public Library when she came here from the Netherlands,” Ferriby said. “Her kids learned at school, her husband learned at his job, so that’s where she went to learn. Libraries used to do that back then.”
 
It is in that spirit that Ferriby approaches her job, asking how the library can help people, how it can benefit the community.
Acknowledging her success, representatives from state, county, and local levels gave Ferriby proclamations at the reception ceremony.

She spoke briefly, crediting her staff with making her job easier. “I’ll really miss the people I work with, who are wonderful,” she said later.

In fact, there was a point at which she really wasn’t sure she wanted to retire at all. A talk with Dr. Doris Rucks, who was as active in retirement as she had been when working, changed Ferriby’s mind.

“I’m going to feel my way around  and see what happens. I want to read and sleep and do all the things I haven’t had time to do, because I’ve been a library director since January 1973,” she says.

The Bridgeport (near Flint) native graduated from University of Michigan with a BA?and MALS in Speech, English, and Library Science.  

She worked at Veterans Memorial Library in Mt. Pleasant immediately before taking over from Dale Pretzer at HPL in 1994.

Now, Ferriby will surely be able to spend more time with her husband, author/filmmaker/publisher Roger Rapoport, and visit her son, who teaches high school chemistry in Washington D.C.

But she guarantees that she is not done “making a difference,” and adds, “I’m going to learn new things and have new opportunities. It’s exciting – I feel like a high school senior again.”

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