After nearly 28 years at Crook County Public Library — the last 23 as Director — Jill Mackey is retiring on June 30.
Jill was initially hired by the library in Sundance in October, 1994, as a part-timer. That lasted only briefly until the Children’s Librarian moved on.
“I was asked if I wanted to give it a try,” she said. “I did and I loved it! I had no formal training, but all those years of raising kids, home day care, and Girl Scout leader stood me in good stead.”
Jill became director when Gaydell Collier retired in June of 1999. When she began, all staff were part time with no benefits, other than the Wyoming Retirement System. Now, staff at each of the three libraries have full-time employment with benefits, equivalent to other county employees.
Under her direction, all three libraries continue active and varied programming in their libraries, but are also now reaching out into their communities with storytimes and reading at elementary schools, preschools, day cares, the nursing home, and assisted care facilities. The library has a presence at community events with information tables, parade floats, and the book bike.
Another accomplishment she’s proud of this that the library was able to complete the Wyoming Library Endowment Challenge and establish a permanent endowment. “The return on that has enabled us to continue programs we wouldn’t have been able to due to budget cuts the last two years,” she said.
Bonnie Stahla has been selected as the library’s next director. Jill foresees that the library will “Continue to be welcoming to all, meeting the needs of all, and reaching out to serve communities.”
Now that she’s retiring, Jill plans to care for family members and conduct local history research. She will always retain her deep love of libraries.
“Books are my first and favorite memory of the library as a child,” she said. “However, libraries are not just about books — we provide so much more! I like to think of libraries as a living, breathing entity that seeks ways to serve its patrons and communities. It’s flexible to change, it’s accepting of all, it’s curious — a mirror image of our humanness at its best.”