Ocean City Library director Chris Maloney dies at 45

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Chris Maloney, Ocean City Library director, died suddenly this week. Chris Maloney, Ocean City Library director, died suddenly this week.

OCEAN CITY — Christopher Maloney, director of the Ocean City Free Public Library, died suddenly this week, Mayor Jay Gillian confirmed on Thursday.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to Chris and his family,” Gillian said.

Accompanied by city business administrator Mike Dattilo, Gillian said he visited with heartbroken library employees Thursday afternoon. 

“They are holding up pretty well, but they are in shock,” Gillian said.

The 45-year-old Maloney, he said, was a very popular figure in the library, a “hands-on,” creative director who knew how to get things done.

“Chris will be sorely missed,” he said. “He was a great team member. He devoted his life to this library. He saw the library through many changes, and the success of this library is in large part because of Chris.”

Gillian said he and Dattilo will meet with members of the library board in the near future to “make sure things go smoothly” in finding a replacement.

“Chris did such a wonderful job,” Gillian said, adding that employees will carry on in the meantime.

Ken Cooper, president of the neighboring Ocean City Historical Museum, said he arrived for First Night festivities late New Year’s Eve afternoon and found the library, located within the Ocean City Community Center, was locked.

Cooper, set to make a presentation concerning Ocean City history for First Night, said he thought it was highly unusual that Maloney was late, so he contacted First Night officials.

This set off a chain of events leading to the Somers Point police going to Maloney’s home.

Gillian said it is believed that Maloney died in his home and as yet no cause of death has been determined.

Maloney, who was born in Haddonfield, graduated from Paul VI High School and Holy Family University in Philadelphia. He received a master’s degree in library science from the University of Buffalo.

Gillian said Maloney has worked at the library for 15 years, serving as director since 2003.

Cooper said he was “very, very sad” to hear about Maloney’s death.

The museum worked very closely with Maloney on a wide variety of projects over the years, Cooper said.

“Chris took his job and what he did very, very seriously,” Cooper said. “He really did. He lived for this library, to create what he did. He did an excellent job. Ocean City has the best library around, and that is because of Chris.”

Maloney, Cooper said, never said “no” to the museum, even when he didn’t always say “yes.”

“He did whatever he could for us,” he said, adding that Maloney enjoyed history and was a huge proponent of the museum. “Nothing was impossible. He always looked for a way to make things work. He was a positive force. He always kept us in his thoughts. He was a very thoughtful person.”

While mourning Maloney’s loss, Cooper said that Ocean City is lucky to have had him.

“He was a great guy, we have to be thankful for what he accomplished here,” he said. “He created a lot of programs and activities, set a lot of things in place, in motion.”

Over the past several years, the library took on a huge expansion project. Through it all, Cooper said Maloney was able to navigate the pitfalls and maneuver through difficult situations with ease.

“Everybody loved him. I never heard anyone say a bad word about Chris,” he said. “He had high expectations, he held people accountable. He set the bar high, but everyone liked him.”

The “tremendous loss,” he said, would be felt for a long time. Maloney, he said, was a quiet, private person who worked mostly behind the scenes.

“A lot of people might not even know who he is, but if they ever came into the library, they benefitted from his leadership,” he said. “He was not one to want the spotlight or the accolades. He was the driving force behind all of the programs. He was the brains behind the operation. He did the research and made things happen.

“He made this library what it is, a multi-faceted, first class operation,” Cooper said.  “He guided it through a transition, made sure it was still the place to go for printed books, but also for all of the new technology, e-books. We will really miss Chris.”

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