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Small town librarians make a difference through reading
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HOISINGTON — Hoisington residents will see new faces in October when they visit the Hoisington Library as long term employees Pat Brown and Susan Willis officially  retire at the end of September. Both have truly enjoyed assisting patrons.
One former resident, Linda Pringle spoke highly of the two librarians and  their service through books. When Pringle’s mother, Virginia Ballard of Hoisington, got sick, the women would bring her books by her favorite authors.
“It’s that small town,” atmosphere, said Pringle. She also had Willis for home economics in high school and said about that experience from many years ago, “She was just really a cool, fun person to be around.”
Pat Brown
After 10 years, Pat Brown is preparing to spend time traveling and participating in one of her favorite hobbies, reading. She grew up in Hoisington, but came back for family after working at Colorado State University  as an IBM database administrator. She was there 19 years.
She has a bachelor’s degree from Kansas State University in psychology. Her master’s degree is in education.
Her circuitous route to librarian came through her love of reading. “I’ve always been a reader,” Brown said.
The librarian had moved back to Hoisington from Colorado in the early 2000s to be closer to family. The previous director suggested she apply for the librarian’s job because Brown visited the library frequently. Brown did.
Her time at the library has been a positive experience. “I’ve enjoyed it all,” she said. “It’s been a great job. I inherited a great library, and I was given the resources and support to make it better.
She appreciated the great support from Hoisington and the Central Kansas Library System.
“They’ve made it easy,” she said. “It’s a pleasure to be here.”
 She will miss interacting with patrons the most.
As far as her own hobby, Brown enjoys historical fiction and “reads a little bit of everything.”
She plans to travel more. In her previous job, she traveled across the country, and to Ireland, Belgium and France. She would like to return.  Lately, travel has been to surrounding states.
Brown keeps busy volunteering at the Hoisington Food Bank. “I enjoy that a lot,” she said.
She reports another librarian has been hired, Melissa Nech, who grew up in Hoisington. “She is going to do great,” said Brown.
Susan Willis
Willis has been at the Hoisington Library for 23 years and has seen tremendous changes in library operations in that time. When she started, large card catalogs were necessary to find research books, and keeping track of overdue books and fines was far more labor intensive. Cataloging is also faster.
“It’s easier, much easier today,” she said.
Usage of the library has also changed in that time period. Today, patrons come in to use the technology, but families as a group tend to come in less often. Children can do research at home on the internet or download books. “(The library) is not used in the same way,” she said.
After retirement Willis plans to spend her time making home crafts. “I’m a fan of Pinterest,” she said. She was a home economics major in college and taught that subject at Hoisington High School.
After she began a family, she stayed home with daughter’s Julie Ann and Abby and worked as a substitute teacher.
After the girls were in school, a friend who was director of the library offered her a job. “I was eager,” she said. “It’s a perfect job.”
She has worked part time at the library since then, and over the years, had various job responsibilities. She has worked as the Story Time director, ordered books, and done bookkeeping, all the while, assisting patrons.
Willis will most miss the people and helping them out.  She will also miss the atmosphere of the library.
“You learn something new every day,” the librarian said. She  enjoys reading a diversity of subjects, including Amish fiction, non-fiction and autobiographies.
She was especially appreciative of the contributions of Pat Brown. “Pat has been an excellent director,” said Willis.”She’s good at what she does and is accommodating of patrons in the community.”
Willis has no definite plans, but would like to spend time enjoying her four grandchildren.
Both employees have served faithfully at the library for many years, and a retirement reception for Brown and Willis will be  5-7 p.m. on Sept. 25 at the library. This is a date change from a previous announcement.