A capstone on a 40-year career
PINEDALE –A friend once told Sukey Hohl that upon walking into a Barnes and Noble he was reminded of her. It was something about the smell of books and fresh espresso in the nearby coffee shop.
Hohl said this was one of the best compliments she ever received.
“I remember enjoying how new books smell when I was very small,” she said. “I still like that smell.”
Today Hohl finds herself in the new position of executive director of the Sublette County libraries. She was promoted from associate director this past Monday upon the announcement of former Executive Director Sid Stanfill’s retirement.
This position includes larger responsibility for finances, budget and personnel but this is nothing Hohl cannot handle. She has worked in the Sublette County library system for 21 years.
“I’m very happy with the way the library is. I think it’s a library that’s very loved within this community, and we will continue to be responsive,” she said.
Hohl has worked in the library industry for 40 years, with her first job being at her high school library. She later obtained a Master of Library Science at Berkley.
However, there was a 14-year gap in Hohl’s library career. She worked as an outdoor guide for the National Outdoor Leadership School in Lander, which is originally how she found her way to Wyoming.
“When I was an outdoor guide everybody said, ‘Really?’ but a librarian made sense,” Hohl said. “I was always a reader. I was a nerd before there were nerds.”
She began working for the Sublette County libraries in 1997 after moving to Pinedale with her husband.
She witnessed many changes, one being the move of the Pinedale Library from the Circuit Court building to the current log building at 155 S. Tyler Ave.
“We go for a homey atmosphere. We’re not very institutional,” Hohl said. “We intentionally don’t have a lot of signs and rules. We’re not at all a quiet library.”
But, Hohl said she prefers it this way.
She describes the Big Piney and Pinedale libraries as the “heart of Sublette County.” One reason is because people often are not dropping off books at the library. Hohl said the community uses it as an epicenter to leave random belongings for other people.
“They leave anything,” she said. “Something they need to get to somebody else – this is the place to exchange it.”
Hohl is quick to credit much of the success of her career and the Sublette County libraries to her staff.
She has trained dozens of librarians, mostly women, over the years. Hohl said she has thrived off seeing them grow and pursue such a noble career.
“You didn’t become a librarian to make a lot of money, but to help people, share joy of books, movies, databases, art, all kinds of things,” she said.
And that is what is unique – being a librarian is not all about books.
Hohl just wrapped up the Renaissance Barn Dance fundraiser on Saturday. This week both libraries are preparing opening ceremonies for the Smithsonian exhibit: The Way We Worked. It will be on display at the Pinedale Library from April 5 to May 5.
Additionally, there is a film festival every Saturday this month. In the summer the Pinedale Library hosts live music and weddings almost every weekend.
Hohl is so busy that when asked what book she is currently reading she just laughed and said, “I’m too busy.”
But one that stands out from the last few years is “The Nightingale” by Donna Tart. Her all-time favorite is the Aubrey-Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian.
Hohl’s dedication to the Sublette County libraries and her new position of executive director is apparent even in her office.
Decorations for the Renaissance Barn Dance were stacked in one corner, and items for a silent auction were carefully tucked away in her desk. The walls adorned with bookshelves, artwork and a Laurie King quote that reads, “I crawled into my books and pulled the pages up over my head.”
Being a librarian is more than just a job for Hohl it is a lifestyle. And one she had to get back to. On the day of the interview, Sukey Hohl still had to go home, check on the dog and come back to prepare for the barn dance – all on a Saturday.