Chances are, if you've been to any of the number of events put on by the Newton Public Library in the last nearly 14 years, Susan Bartel had a hand in getting that information to you.
Through those nearly 14 years, Bartel has served as supervisor of special services at the library, which has entailed a lot of different responsibilities.
"My job was kind of a little bit of a hodgepodge," Bartel said.
For the most part, Bartel's work focused on communications/publicity, such as updating the library's website, running social media and putting up flyers — though it has also included managing overdue accounts, handling supply inventory and more.
Bartel's career in libraries began when she was a student at Bethel College. While it took a detour while raising her family in Colorado, she eventually found her way back.
In the middle of that detour, Bartel spent time working as an illustrator for a science textbook company. As that work went digital and opportunities became less frequent, she returned to her previous work, as the importance of libraries was never lost on her.
"When I started into library work, the thing that really impressed me was that almost every day I learned something new," Bartel said. "Even as an illustrator, especially for science things, you have to find accurate information. So, I would go to the library and find mostly children's books that had really cool illustrations of how things really were. That was a big part of it."
Starting out, Bartel worked in the Pikes Peak library district in Colorado before moving to Kansas nearly 20 years ago. After a short stint in Derby, Bartel took the position with the NPL.
Helping as a part of the library's fountain of information may have initially drawn Bartel to the work, but she noted over the years she has grown to cherish the people she was worked with and the relationships built both among the NPL staff and the community members the library serves.
Retiring after 13 years with the Newton Public Library, those relationships are what Bartel admitted she will miss the most — especially those fostered among special interest groups for genealogy and photography she helped set up at the library.
"That's been the most rewarding thing," Bartel said. "That was really satisfying work for me. The people who are interested in those passions were really fun to get to know and I'll really miss those contacts, as well as my coworkers."
Over the years, Bartel has also given her time to the Bethel College Women's Association, Carriage Factory Art Gallery and the Harvey County Extension Master Gardeners program — the latter something she said would've been "tough sledding" in Colorado, so she was happy to have the opportunity to help with such a program in Newton.
As one chapter closes, Bartel is turning the page on another. The decision to retire from NPL was made to allow more focus on her art — another passion. In fact, all the areas in which Bartel has donated her time over the years have been passions, something she testified to as a good choice and encouraged others to think about.
"Communities like Newton, where would we be if we didn't have people stepping up to help and stepping in to volunteer sharing the things that they're passionate about or the things that they're good at," Bartel said. "I think that's a really rewarding thing to offer."