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Hillsdale College Library Director Dan Knoch will retire from his position after 43 years working at the college. Col­legian Archives

After 43 years at Hillsdale College, Mossey Library Director Dan Knoch will retire at the end of this semester.

Knoch came to Hillsdale College in 1976, after grad­u­ating from Western Michigan Uni­versity in 1975 through its American Library Asso­ci­ation accredited program, and since then, he has pro­gressed from librarian to director. As a director, he was respon­sible for every­thing that goes on in the library, including budget, per­sonnel assess­ments, chairing meetings, and working with the faculty library com­mittee. Now, he said he would like to focus being with his family as a grand­father.

“I’m going to be more involved with my grand­children. I’m going to babysit my boys, my grandsons, two days a week,” Knoch said. “They live in Hud­sonville, near Grand Rapids. Mondays and Tuesdays after they’re done with school, I’m going to go up there and sit with them because their mom works those days.”

He also has a grand­daughter in Kala­mazoo, Michigan, he said, who he said he intends to help out with.

“I often say after my first grandson was born, I’ve seen bumper stickers after the fact that said, ‘If I would’ve known my grand­children would be so much fun, I would’ve had them first,’” Knoch said.

In his time at the college, Knoch has wit­nessed many changes at the library in the past 43 years, the most noticeable and dif­ficult ones being tech­no­logical.

“The biggest thing with the library by far is the com­put­er­i­zation of the world,” Knoch said. “I mean, when I came here, it was card catalog, the college had a main­frame com­puter that they used for admin­is­trative stuff, and it was based before the per­sonal com­puter.”

The library ini­tially had a card catalog system, where it recorded its stock on index cards; by the 1990s, it had an online catalog and pro­gressed to a fully inte­grated library system. In 1994, Knoch said they added the section in the back of the first floor and the Her­itage Room – the first addi­tions since 1971. In 1995, the library added an internet system.

“I said ‘The fol­lowing summer, I’m going to take the summer off,’” Knoch said with a laugh. “It was very rewarding work, though.”

The library has changed so much over the years that Knoch said he never felt like he was working in the same place.

“Maybe that’s an excuse for staying here as long as I did,” Knoch said. “But the work was rewarding and impactful, and I enjoyed it.”

Knoch said as a director, he looks back on past atti­tudes and actions and thinks there were times he could have been less strict, but the famil­iarity and the pace of the job has helped. With the staff, he said he is there not so much to direct, but instead to guide and support. Though he said he gets a lot of credit as director, much of the work is done by the librarians.

“I always kid them about that, like, ‘Yeah you know the library director, he always gets the pos­itive stuff,’” Knoch said. “I’ve always felt if you hired good people, that’s the best man­agement you could pos­sibly have. If you hire good people, you don’t have to worry about whether quality work gets done.”

Public Service Librarian Linda Moore has been Knoch’s co-worker since their first day in 1976, and she said their rela­tionship as co-workers and friends has grown from just the day-to-day inter­action.

“I’ll stop in his office, we’ll just chit-chat about what hap­pened last night or the weekend, any news that we have, how his family’s doing, his kids,” Moore said. “It’s been a nice rela­tionship.”

Moore said she will be retiring next year, but she knows that having Knoch in the library will be missed.

“It’s the famil­iarity,” Moore said. “He’s been library director for almost 20 years, and he was a col­league for 24 years before that.”

Junior Josiah Leinbach has worked at the library since he was a freshman, and he said his favorite memory with Knoch was that he remem­bered his name within two days of him being hired.

“Dan takes a per­sonal interest in his employees. He takes time to get to know them,” Leinbach said in an email. “He asks ques­tions like, ‘How is your semester going?’ or ‘What did you do over break?’ and he actually wants to know.”

An open house to cel­e­brate Knoch will be held in the Her­itage Room from 2 to 4 p.m. on May 10.