SOLDIERS GROVE - Soldiers Grove Librarian Cele Wolf retired on August 31 after 28 years of service to the community. Taking her place will be Sarah DiPadova. Wolf plans to spend some time relaxing, and then like a compass to the north pole, says she may resume part-time work at the library giving DiPadova the chance to take a vacation.
“I’ve spent the last few weeks going through all the old dusty files, and I can’t believe how much has happened at the library in the last 28 years,” Wolf said. “When I started in 1992, it was pre-internet and there were no bar codes on books.”
Wolf says that the pace of changes that have unfolded in recent years had kept her busy with “learning how to do everything online.” She said that in the last year or so, she had finally gotten rid of the library’s old card catalogue.
Wolf remembers the process of convincing the Soldiers Grove Village Board to join the Southwest Library System’ online service.
“All 27 member libraries had to convince their library and municipal boards that it was the way of the future,” Wolf remembered. “The village board questioned the cost of membership, and whether it was worth it.”
Wolf remembers the meeting where the decision to join the library system was finally made.
“Village president Irving Davidson just didn’t see the benefit of the village paying the $3,000 to 4,000 upfront fee to join the system. The board seemed to be prepared to vote the proposal down again,” Wolf said. “Then Eddie Herbst came from the back of the room, placed a $100 bill on the table, and stated that he would be the first to support the move.”
After that, Wolf said, the board voted to join the library system.
Wolf remembers another big project that she oversaw in her time at the library was the expansion project. “I can’t believe that any of us survived that,” she joked.
“There were countless meetings facilitated by Jerry Quebe to obtain public input,” Wolf remembered. “And some tough decisions had to be made so the project fit within the budget, but now we have a beautiful library.”
When asked what the best things and the most challenging things had been about her 28 years, Wolf easily described all of the things that had brought her joy.
“The best thing was definitely the people that used the library, and all the wonderful programs we were able to provide,” Wolf said. “There was a joyful atmosphere of people coming together who were excited about learning and discovering new ideas.”
It seemed a little more difficult for Wolf to express what the biggest challenges had been for her.
“The main thing was always to maintain the best library service possible for our community, and to keep everyone working together toward our goals,” Wolf said. “The effort to establish a good working relationship with the village board has really paid off over the years, and the community enjoys the benefit of that.”
Wolf said that in recent months, it had also been a challenge to be “fearless about the future.”
“Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve not been able to hold larger gatherings, and people are suffering the lack of human contact,” Wolf said. “However, I have complete confidence in Sarah – she’s smart, personable, with a good heart and a lot of energy.”
Sarah DiPadova and her family moved to the area from Milwaukee about five years ago. Her husband had grown up here, and wanted to move back to raise their family. The couple has two children, Rivyn, 13, and Aurelia, eight.
DiPadova studied Spanish as an undergraduate, and received her Masters Degree in Public Service from Marquette University. She grew up in Stevens Point. Before this, DiPadova had worked part time for the library as the assistant librarian.
“When we first moved here, my children were very young, so working part-time was the perfect fit for me,” DiPadova said. “Once Rivyn was in school, I began to volunteer at the library, and then got the opportunity to work part-time in a paid position.
“My goals for the job are to carry on the legacy of the library founders and Cele Wolf,” DiPadova said. “I want to continue the tradition of service to the community, providing resources, and offering great programs.”
DiPadova said that she plans to do some minor rearranging at the library to make it more accessible for seniors. She is also working to reimagine programming in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We will try to continue with outdoor programs this fall as long as the weather permits,” DiPadova said. “We will also launch a new website soon, and visitors will be able to find a link on there to participate in a virtual story hour.”
The library’s new website can be found at www.soldiersgrovelibrary.org.
“The new website is in the final stages of development,” Di Padova said. “It will offer new team resources, mental health resources, and old photos and family histories from Soldiers Grove.”
The library is participating in the ‘Recollection Wisconsin’ project of the Wisconsin Historical Society. We have lots of work to do in digitizing all the old information contained in the library, and we are actively seeking volunteers for that.She also mentioned that the library has had to postpone their 50thanniversary celebration in 2020, but would hold their “golden anniversary” celebration in 2021. This event will include the history of how the library came to be founded from the Yankeetown Homemakers to the present.