New library director is a familiar face
October 7, 2022
In May, the city of Cloquet hired a new library director for its expanded facility on 14th Street in the heart of the city.
As with most jobs and careers, there are stereotypical profiles, with the most recognizable librarian stereotype being bespectacled, hair in a tight bun, stamping returned books, and finger on the lips, saying "shush." Courtney Dietsche, Cloquet's new library director, defies that stereotype and is providing fresh leadership in the important role.
Dietsche was originally hired by the city of Cloquet in 2020 as the adult services librarian. Previously, she was the director of a rural library in Iron River, Wisconsin. She came to Cloquet after the roughly $2.5 million library expansion was basically completed in 2020, but Covid-19's influence was spreading over worksites nationwide.
"It was difficult when you basically couldn't see or interact with people face to face," Dietsche said.
Dietsche replaced Beth Sorenson as library director after Sorenson led the expansion project but then took another director job in Worthington, Minnesota.
Dietsche received her bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin, with a major in English and a minor in anthropology.
After college she got married, then took a test to get qualified to teach students English in Japan. While there, Dietsche pondered getting an advanced degree in library science.
She followed through and got her master's degree from St. Catherine's University in St. Paul and Dominican University in Illinois. She has recreationally traveled to France, Iceland, Germany and other countries.
About here is where any outdated librarian description ends for Courtney.
She is athletic in some nontypical sports including weightlifting, bodybuilding, and self defense training with knives, nunchucks, swords and hand-to-hand fighting.
She has had a personal trainer and keeps personal bests in the bench press, squats and deadlifts. She also trains as a runner and competes in half-marathons including Grandma's Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon, and races in Ely, Ashland, and shorter 5-kilometer races.
Running three nights a week is the established routine. Another unrelated hobby: she's got a kit for learning how to be a drummer for a band, and already has tattoos on her arms, visible when she's busy practicing with her drumsticks.
The Superior resident said she first became interested in libraries in grade school and worked in her middle school library in the eighth grade.
Dietsche emphasized she always loved reading and books. Her favorite food is chocolate; favorite movie, "The Princess Bride;" and favorite TV show, "The A-Team."
This is Dietsche's first budget cycle as library director.
She's learning about line-item funding for programs and how to provide these services to the public.
Of course, utilities, salaries and benefits, internet access, books, periodicals, furniture, and other costs are rising, so holding the budget line is challenging.
Yet, Dietsche said she has inherited a talented staff and that she's excited about the future of the Cloquet Public Library.
And with recent library directors also bucking old-fashioned stereotypes, with Dietsche the mold has definitely been broken.