New library shelving honors Bickel

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Marsha Bickel served on the McGregor Public Library Board for 42 years and was instrumental in children's programming.

New shelving at the McGregor Public Library honors long-time board member Marsha Bickel while providing much-needed space for the juvenile book collection.

When Bickel passed away in July following a courageous battle with cancer, 120 different contributions poured in from family and friends.

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

New shelving at the McGregor Public Library honors long-time board member Marsha Bickel while providing much-needed space for the library’s juvenile book collection.

Previously, said library director Michelle Pettit, juvenile readers (those between the ages of 9 and 12) didn’t have their own “place.”

“Their books were in the picture book area, and they felt like they were going to the little kids area,” she remarked.

Now, the addition has given this group their own separate section and doubled the amount of shelving available for books, including a growing collection of popular graphic novels.

“Some people think they’re not real books,” Pettit quipped, “but if kids are motivated to read, that’s always a good thing.”

The shelving, which is located behind the library’s fireplace area, also creates floor space for the new section. Pettit hopes it can eventually be filled with fun, comfortable seating options. That will give the juvenile space its own “identity” and attract readers.

“We have some good young readers now,” she said, “and it’s good to show them that, as they get older, they’ll have their own space.”

Along with the juvenile collection, Pettit said the shelving will house some of the library’s young adult books too—and nearly double that space. By shifting the juvenile books out of the little kids area, there’s also more room for picture books in that section.

It’s all been made possible through donations in honor of Bickel, who served on the McGregor Public Library Board for 42 years.

“A lot of people served for a long time,” Pettit said, “but I can’t think of anyone who served that long.”

Bickel was instrumental in children’s programming at the library, helping with activities during elementary school visits. At the library’s annual summer carnival, she was affectionately known as the “popcorn lady.”

“She did that around 30 years,” Pettit noted.

Bickel was always willing to lend a hand, and she never had to be asked.

“She was one of those people who would ask us. She’d say, ‘That’s coming up. Are you going to need my help?’” Pettit shared. “She was such a good presence—friendly and kind to everyone. The kids really responded to that.”

When Bickel passed away in July following a courageous battle with cancer, Pettit said 120 different contributions poured in from family and friends. It was Bickel’s husband, Dan, who suggested shelving might be a good use for the funds.

It’s fitting, Pettit remarked, that the shelving will now benefit kids of all ages.

“It just clicked into place, that what we needed is what she helped with,” she said. “Marsha would’ve wanted that.”

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