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The mood at Hatch Public Library in Mauston was reflective Jan. 6 as staff celebrated the 19 year career of Circulation Manager Jeanette Crowley on her last day.

Library Director Bridget Christenson described Crowley as “wonderful to work with,” and possessing qualities that would be difficult to replace.

“She has a lot of experience in the community,” Christenson said. “Her kids grew up here. She’s live here her whole life... That brings so much to our library.”

Crowley said the timing was right for her to retire.

“Health-wise, I’m fine,” Crowley said, but she knew it was time when her closest friends at the library had already retired along with family members her age.

“It was hard,” Crowley said. “You see all the people you know your age and they’re all retiring. I’m the last of my family and my husband’s family who’s still working.”

Crowley has three sons and five grandchildren. She first began working at the library because of her love of reading, but has a more detailed perspective of the work running a library entails after spending 19 years doing it.

“Everybody always says, ‘Oh, I love to read, it would be great to work in the library’ and I guess that was my feeling at the time,” Crowley said. “Now when you hear people say it, that has nothing to do with working in the library. It is so different, you know, you just don’t imagine.”

Although there are structural changes planned at the library, Crowley’s position will continue on after retirement.

“It just got divided up a little more between people,” Crowley said.

As Crowley ended her career at the library, a new one was just beginning. Four weeks earlier, the library welcomed Youth Services Director Tess Kieselhorst.

Kieselhorst previously worked at the New Lisbon Library.

“I love working with kids,” Kieselhorst said. “I love that this library has a really good connection with the school… (It’s) a different perspective on teaching.”

Kieselhorst is considering pursuing a Master’s Degree in Information Studies to learn more about resources.

“I like encouraging creativity,” Kieselhorst “I like showing kids how you can use the library.”

She coordinates much of the library’s reading programs for children.

“We do baby storytime here and toddler storytime,” Kieselhorst said. “(We have) programs for all ages. We just started a yoga story time in the evening, which is really cool.”

Looking back, Crowley said libraries provide a service to community members of all ages.

“Books are expensive no matter how you look at it,” Crowley said. “There’s just such a wide variety of books here. And if we don’t have them there’s some place else we can get them for you.”

Crowley likely knows the variety of books available at the Hatch Public Library better than anyone. Part of her job as circulation manager involved sifting through all the donations received and determining what was to be done with them.

Crowley said she regretted her retirement would make it more difficult to get to know Kieselhorst, but was optimistic about the library going forward with new staff.

“It’s always nice (to see) some new fresh ideas,” Crowley said.

Kieselhorst is doing her part to navigate changing times and keep the library evolving.

“This is a transitional time with some of the old guard coming out and new people coming in,” Kieselhorst said. “Libraries are changing, (there’s) more focus on technology, more programming.”

Christenson agreed the library was embarking on a new journey.

“It’s a new era,” Christenson said.

You can reach Jake Ekdahl on Twitter @JakeaEkdahl or contact him at 608-697-6353

Reporter

Juneau County Star-Times reporter