11 years as Weyauwega’s library director
By Angie Landsverk
After serving as director of Weyauwega’s public library for 11 years, Kristi Pennebecker has retired.
Her last day working there was Thursday, May 10.
The day included visits from patrons and library board members, as well as her being treated to cake and flowers.
“I’ve really loved it here,” she said. “The staff has been wonderful. There are so many people I got to meet and know. The city has been good to work for.”
Originally from south of La Crosse, Pennebecker and her husband Al bought a home near Amherst after they married.
She was a radiologic technologist at St. Michael’s Hospital, in Stevens Point for years before she made a career change and became the director of Amherst’s Lettie W. Jensen Library.
The couple’s four daughters went to school in the community.
With the library just a block from the school, being the library’s part-time director was a good fit for Pennebecker.
“It was so completely different from what I did before,” Pennebecker said of the work.
She learned a lot and described her years working there as fun.
When Pennebecker learned about Weyauwega’s library director opening, it was a transitional time for her family.
Her youngest daughter was graduating from high school.
Pennebecker applied for the full-time position, got it and found she liked everything about it.
“It was a little bigger, a little more of a challenge,” she said.
Among the changes that occurred at the library during her tenure were more programs and more hours.
When she started, there was a weekly story hour on the first three Wednesdays of the month.
“Then I said we should do it every Wednesday,” Pennebecker said.
The fourth Wednesday was added, and summer programming soon expanded as well.
In 2007 – the year she became the director – the library offered 54 programs.
That number climbed to 232 in 2011 and was 96 last year.
Pennebecker also saw the need to add evening hours.
“There were not any evening hours. I just really thought there should be. We were getting so busy, busier as a whole,” she said.
Evening hours were added on Wednesdays in 2008 and then on Mondays in 2013.
The library’s circulation also increased, peaking at 55,114 in 2013.
Pennebecker said that represents the number of items physically checked out at the library’s circulation desk.
She believes circulation has plateaued.
Weyauwega’s public library loans many books to other libraries in the Outagamie Waupaca Library System.
The system likes to see that for every book a library gets, it loans one out as well, she said.
In 2008, Weyauwega had a 1:24 ratio, Pennebecker said.
That ratio was 3:44 last year, which means for every book Weyauwega’s library received, it loaned out about three books to other libraries.
Pennebecker said libraries are welcoming places and continue to draw people to them for a variety of reasons.
“Some come just for movies. Some come just for books. Some come just for magazines. Some come just for audiobooks,” she said.
What she enjoyed most about her work were the people, staff and library board.
Pennebecker also loved ordering books and seeing the reaction of the patrons when they arrived.
Kelly Kneisler is now the library’s interim director.
Pennebecker explained why she decided to retire now.
Her husband retired about five years ago.
They have five grandchildren, and she said that is the main impetus for her retirement.
Three of those grandchildren were born within a year of each other, Pennebecker said.
“Before, there were two,” she said. “I just don’t want to miss out on their growing up. They grow up so fast.”
Her retirement plans include sailing, gardening, traveling, visiting National Parks and spending time with family.
“Of course I’ll be reading also, but mostly in the winter,” she said. “We’ll just see what happens and where life leads us.”