By Mark Zaborney
Irene M. Martin, a longtime librarian with the Toledo Lucas County Public Library and the system’s conservationist who worked to save northwest Ohio’s historic landmarks, died Wednesday at ProMedica Flower Hospital in Sylvania. She was 69.
She was in poor health and suffered cardiac arrest, said her husband, John Doughty.
Ms. Martin started working as a page for the library during her school days. In October 2019, she retired as a librarian in the Home History and Genealogy Department.
“She had a keen interest in Toledo history and genealogy, and was a world-class librarian,” said Jim Marshall, retired director of local history and genealogy at the Toledo Lucas County Public Library’s main library. “If there was a question, if there was an answer it would find an answer.”
Her husband said, “I would call you a missing person finder.” Ms. Martin spoke of phone calls from patrons trying to find her mother’s birthplace or the location of a dance hall significant in family history.
As the library’s curator, Ms. Martin oversaw the photos, manuscripts, maps, and paintings in the system’s collection.
“She regularly attended seminars and symposiums on conservation,” said her husband. “She knew about moisture and atmospheric conditions and knew how to preserve collections.”
She has lectured on preserving valuable family photos and documents over the years. She suggested making copies of the original photos to share with the family before putting the original in a scrapbook.
“When you keep your memory, you’re not doing anything you can’t undo,” Ms. Martin told The Blade in 2010. “The main thing in preservation is not to cause harm.”
Ms. Martin regularly coordinated Discover Downtown Toledo Walking Tours sponsored by the University of Toledo’s Jack Ford Urban Affairs Center and the library.
“We try to make people aware of the special treasures we have here in Toledo,” she told The Blade in 2015.
Outside of work, she worked as a member of the Toledo City Historic Districts Commission and the Landmarks Preservation Council of Northwestern Ohio, of which she became president, to rescue these treasurers. She spoke with passion at public gatherings when buildings were threatened – like the downtown Community Services Building, which was eventually demolished. She also oversaw the Landmark Council’s Excellence in Preservation Awards, which “encouraged people to take some time to look around an old building and see what they can do with it other than demolish it,” she said in 2007.
Local historian Ted Ligibel said: “She was one of the great protectors of our local history.”
Ms. Martin was the director of the peristyle at the Toledo Museum of Art for many years.
“She was a very pleasant and cheerful person and was always ready to help you along the way in one way or another,” said Mr Ligibel, who was also a peristyle usher.
She was born on January 4, 1952 to Wynette and Herman Martin in the Reynolds Corners neighborhood of the former Adams Ward. She stayed in the neighborhood, now in South Toledo.
She graduated from Rogers High School and received a bachelor’s degree in history from UT. She holds a Masters of Science degree in library science from the University of Illinois.
Her mother worked in library lending and Ms. Martin began her library career as a teenager. Ms. Martin worked as a librarian in the literature department before moving to home history and genealogy.
Her husband John Doughty, whom she married on October 12, 1985, survived; Daughter Amy Doughty and brother Herman Martin.
The family receives friends on Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. at Thomas I. Wisniewski’s funeral, where the service takes place on Friday at 11 a.m.
The family proposes tributes to the Toledo Museum of Art.
Published by The Blade on August 29, 2021.