EDITORIAL: Retiring Fran Keller leaves lasting legacy as Martin Library's top supporter

The York Dispatch Editorial Board
Fran Keller, Martin Library marketing director, is hugged by YCL President Robert F. Lambert during a staff meeting at Martin Library Friday, April 12, 2019. Keller, who is retiring after over 32 years with the library, was presented with flowers by Lambert and the staff as a surprise during the meeting. Bill Kalina photo

Martin Library is a York City institution.

For more than three decades, Fran Keller has helped that institution not only survive, but thrive.

Keller has been Martin Library's marketing director and biggest cheerleader for more than 32 years. Now she is retiring, a decision she called "bittersweet."

The 81-year-old North York resident, who has been a lover of libraries since her youth, has certainly earned that right. She's more than done her part for the community.

Still, those who love the library and the services it provides are certainly sad to see her go. Her tireless promotional efforts over the years have helped the library in countless ways.

She's helped the city library stay relevant and strong in the digital age, when many folks openly question the continued need for brick-and-mortar libraries.

More:Fran Keller, marketing champ of Martin Library, retiring

Celebrity auction: One way she helped the library the most was through her pivotal role in organizing its annual celebrity auction, a fundraising event featuring signed items from famous athletes, television stars and politicians.

Connecting with sports stars, especially, left her "tickled pink," she said. That's not surprising. Keller is a big supporter of Penn State football and the York Revolution. She's also been a longtime York Area Sports Night officer.

Keller's job with the library allowed her to be active in the community and surround herself with books, two things she treasures deeply.

"I feel like I've been here forever. It has always been a big part of my life," she said.

Keller promises the library will continue to be a big part of her life. Yes, she'll be off the payroll, but she plans to visit often.

Others need to step up: Now, however, others will need to step up to fill the vital role that Keller occupied so ably over the decades.

The library still needs cheerleaders to actively promote its many services.

That's because libraries in the 21st century are vastly different places these days. They're no longer just a repository of books and documents. They now offer digital access for those who can't afford it and its librarians offer expert guidance for those searching through the voluminous information available on the web. 

Most importantly, however, libraries offer us a sense of community — a place where folks can meet, chat and educate themselves in a safe and friendly environment.

During this era of political polarization, such places are desperately needed.

Keller understood that better than anyone.

That's why she'll leave a lasting legacy at Martin Library.

That's also why others must pick up and carry her torch into the future.

The future of Martin Library will depend on it.