Hoadley closes a chapter at Westerlo library

Enterprise file photo — Michael Koff

Westerlo Public Library manager Sue Hoadley stands in the library lobby. She will be retiring from her position at the end of next month.

WESTERLO — Sue Hoadley, who has been Westerlo’s library manager for nearly a decade, will retire this summer.

Hoadley, who is 63, is planning to retire on July 31, but says that she will stay if necessary while the library finds a new manager.

“It’s time to start enjoying my life,” she said.

Hoadley began working as the library manager in Westerlo in September 2010, but has worked as a library manager in total for 25 years. Her last job was in Pelham, New Hampshire, a suburb of Boston, she said. She moved to Westerlo because her husband, an architect, was having trouble finding work in the Boston area during the recession and had family around Westerlo.

“Being a librarian is my third or fourth career,” she said.

Hoadley studied architecture at Pennsylvania State University before joining the United States Army for five years, where she traveled across the country and stayed for some time in Germany. She later received a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies at the University of Maryland and worked for 11 years for the federal Department of Justice in Baltimore as a paralegal.

Her happiest times as a paralegal, she said, was in the law library.

“What I really enjoyed most … was the research,” she said.

Hoadley also became interested in the history of her home and her neighborhood as well as in genealogy, which is how she discovered she had relatives from Sweden and Italy.

She was also ready for a change in her work, where the department had begun to delve heavily in processing big drug cases, she said.

“You just begin to see a really terrible side of life,” she said. “And it can wear you down.”

So Hoadley went back to the University of Maryland and earned a master’s degree in library studies.

When Hoadley began working at the Westerlo library nine years ago, she said, there had been some neglect due to it being a small organization with limited funds. But she came to appreciate the library after learning what people did to establish it.

As far back as the 1960s, residents were writing to their state representatives to find out how they could establish a library, she said. In 1976, funds left over from the bicentennial celebration were set aside for this purpose.

The town’s general store was donated in 1982 and opened as a library in 1986 after years of repair that included installing heating and water systems. Shortly before Hoadley arrived, in April 2009, the library had wireless internet installed.

“It just really touched me. I think these people work really hard. They deserve the best. And I hope over these last nine years that I have given them the best,” said Hoadley.

Hoadley has always had an interest in architecture. That interest was how she and her husband became close; it inspired her research into her home and community in Baltimore; and it has had a place in her time as a librarian as well. In each library she has worked at, there has been some sort of construction project, small or large, she said.

It was no different in the Westerlo library, which had a new roof put in six year ago, windows replaced, a front porch rebuilt, and a new patio rebuilt. Over the last couple years, the library has worked on creating a new common room and program space along with other small improvements, said Hoadley.

Currently, the Westerlo library is trying to repair its parking lot. Hoadley says she hopes to have a contract with a company set up to repair the lot before she leaves.

“We’re real close to that,” she said.

Another thing that has changed has been the hours. Hoadley said that the library has worked to “regularize” hours so that it is either 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. or 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. each day. This year, the library also increased its total weekly hours from 29 to 30.

Hoadley said one of the biggest challenges of the job is “just trying to keep this going with limited staff,” she said. There are four employees of the library, including herself, and everyone is assigned at least one day of staffing the front desk during the week. They rotate on who works Friday or Saturday, said Hoadley.

“I am greatly appreciative for the cooperation of our staff here,” she said, adding that they truly care about the work at the library.

“It’s not just a job, and it’s not just putting in the hours,” she said.

Hoadley has a number of other responsibilities as library manager. She recalled being interviewed for a position at another library and being asked what the job entails.

“I realized that there’s no such thing as a typical day in the library,” she said.

Her tasks include opening and closing the library, ordering books and supplies, as well as keeping track of what people are reading to know what to order. She says a conversation, besides being a nice interaction, can serve as “user analysis.”

“That’s what we called it in graduate school,” she said.

Hoadley said she is hoping to be able to travel during her retirement. Originally from Erie, Pennsylvania, she is looking forward to seeing her siblings in other states like Texas, Florida, and North Carolina. She also hopes to return to Europe, visiting the family members she discovered in studying her family history, and returning to Germany.

Hoadley would tell her successor that she is very lucky to come into this library in the condition it is in now, and to listen to the patrons and staff.

“I will miss this place,” she said. “But I will also feel good that I am leaving behind something to be proud of.”

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