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Hilltown Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, January 6, 2011

New librarian in Westerlo
Hoadley’s life unfolds like an adventure novel

By Zach Simeone

WESTERLO — Looking back on her years of work in criminal justice, Susan Hoadley finds peace in being Westerlo’s new librarian, in a profession that allows her to help people.

“It’s a lot more than just sitting at the desk,” Hoadley said. “Some people come in and just want to find a good book. Other times, there might be something serious going on in their lives, and they might want to understand it better by finding something to read or finding a website, and if you can steer them in the right direction, it might really make a difference in their lives.”

She began working at the Westerlo Library in September, and there will be an open house at the library this Saturday, from 1 to 2 p.m., so Westerlo residents can meet their new librarian.

Hoadley, 55, grew up near Erie, Pennsylvania. She was brought to Westerlo by “your typical adventures in life, the long and winding road,” she said with a laugh. She has been a librarian for 15 years, most recently in Pelham, N.H., before coming to live in the Hilltowns.

“What ultimately brought me to New York was that my husband’s family is here,” she said. “He’s from Massachusetts, and his sister’s been here about 30 years. He worked here at one time; we’d been to Washington, and Virginia, and New Hampshire, and all over the place.”

Before she made a career of surrounding herself with long rows of literature, Hoadley was studying architecture at Pennsylvania State University.

“Life intervened, put up roadblocks, I left school, I went into the Army for a while, and when I came back, I fully intended to go back to architecture school and finish,” said Hoadley. “I found that almost every program, you had to go full-time, and it had to be during the day, and I had to work to support myself, so I just couldn’t get into it.”

She got a job as a legal clerk at the United States Attorney’s office in Baltimore, and eventually decided to go to night school to get a degree in paralegal studies.

“I spent several years doing criminal prosecution of multistate drug trafficking organizations,” Hoadley said. “A few years back, there was a TV show called Homicide: Life on the Street; that was actually based on a couple of police officers that I knew. After a while of seeing the worst side of humanity and seeing families torn apart by what drugs can do to them, young people going to prison for 25 and 30 years, I finally said, ‘I’ve had enough of this. I need to do something where I feel more like I’m actually helping people,’ and that’s another big part of being a librarian: being able to help people.”

Though she had loved books as a child, it was her work as a paralegal that helped her realize how much she would enjoy working in a library.

“I did lots and lots of research, and I found that my best times were when I was in the library doing my research,” she said. So, she went to the University of Maryland and studied librarianship in graduate school. She got her degree in 1995.

“A lot of positions, like being a library director, especially at larger libraries, you’re required to have a master’s degree,” she said.

Though she has changed fields, Hoadley has not completely lost touch with her roots.

“Now, I love all kinds of crime and suspense,” Hoadley concluded, laughing again. “Patricia Cornwell, John Sandford — I can’t get away from it.”

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