While many children often view librarians as frumpy and staunch supporters of silence, Beech Grove Library Director Liz Schoettle certainly doesn’t fall into that classification.
And Melody Stevens can attest to that. “Liz is a fun person with one of the most dry, but delightful, senses of humor of anyone I’ve ever encountered, said Stevens, who serves as the community relations director for Beech Grove Schools and the executive director of the district’s Education Foundation.
“Liz is loyal to her employer and her friends,” added Stevens. “Although not a Beech Grove resident, she has embraced the city and its library patrons and truly looks for multiple ways to enhance the library experience. She’s generous with her time and attention and is committed to serving her adopted community.”
Schoettle, the library’s director since October 2011, has experienced some lean times at the branch, as evidenced by the staff being trimmed from 21 to 10 employees. But cuts were necessary to ensure the library’s fiscal viability without axing services or hours.
In fact, business hours were expanded last week. The library is now open an hour later on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and two hours later on Friday and Saturday. The new hours are 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.
“One of the needs expressed during the Beech Grove Library’s focus groups and online survey was for extended hours for Friday and Saturday,” library board of trustee President William Fennema said in a news release. “We are pleased to make changes that will better meet the needs of the members of the community.”
Schoettle is responsible for all operations of the library, including finances, public services, contracts and staffing. She also prepares monthly and annual reports and has developed a long-term strategic plan. Equally important is her involvement with community partners, including Beech Grove Schools and the mayor’s office, to promote the city.
The library has 41,356 physical items that circulate in its collection, and the branch belongs to a consortium of libraries called Indiana Digital Download, which gives patrons access to an expanded collection of downloadable e-books and audio books and streaming videos.
And while the reading habits of children have changed over the years, they are still reading the classics, said Schoettle.
“We provide computer access to people who don’t have it at home, and people who need help with the computers while looking for a book can just ask our librarians for assistance.”
The library has been serving the city since 1951 and has been located at 1102 Main St. since 1953. Since that time there have been three additions to the building, the last in 2002. The library used to boast a cafe, but due to budgetary issues it was closed shortly after Schoettle’s arrival. The tables and chairs still line the east entry.
She previously served as associate director of the Indiana State Library, where she created, implemented and managed initiatives to ensure superior customer service and performance from her staff. In addition, she launched various programs and workshops, established the library’s Twitter and Facebook accounts, oversaw the acquisitions budget for public services areas and was responsible for hiring, training and evaluating personnel.
Schoettle, who earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Indiana University, was as a branch manager at White River Library in Greenwood and Spades Park in Marion County and a librarian at Break-O-Day in Johnson County. She was attending IU when Bob Knight’s Hoosiers won the NCAA championship in 1987. “It’s funny,” said Schoettle. “We went to the (Showalter) fountain when we won the semifinal game but not when we won the championship.”
Her husband, Anthony, graduated from Southport High School and Indiana University. He wrote for newspapers in Greenwood, Frankfort, Columbus and Franklin before landing at the Indianapolis Business Journal in 1998.
He and Liz have three cats and two dogs and enjoy riding their bikes and running. Liz took up knitting about a year ago, and although she says she’s not very good at it. “I am getting better. I can knit scarves and dish cloths. They make for nice gifts.
“My grandmother tried to get me to knit, but it did not seem interesting then. I know she would be pleased that I have learned how to knit. I like the idea of knowing how to knit. Hand crafts are back in vogue.”
She also likes sports and has been told that she knows “a lot about sports for a girl. “I’m a big NFL fan and a big IU fan.”
Schoettle finds time to serve as treasurer on the Greater Beech Grove Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors, of which Stevens is president.
“Without a doubt, Liz has proved to be the best treasurer in the history of the board!” said Stevens. “She is organized, detail-oriented, precise and transparent. She has brought the chamber’s financial reporting to a new and improved level. Liz is a true asset to the Beech Grove community, library and chamber. We are fortunate to have her expertise and energy. One of her favorite sayings is, ‘I am a librarian because nobody would pay me to ride my bike professionally.’ ”