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By Carol Stiffler

Celebrated library director Dion Mindykowski is leaving the Tahquamenon Area Library after 10 years serving the local community’s library needs. Mindykowski—who brought vitality to the library, increasing its use, multiplying its offerings, and winning awards for his efforts—is moving to be closer to his family.

His last day with the library is Friday, March 12.

“When Dion came to Newberry 10 years ago, our library was literally broke and didn’t reach out to folks in our community,” said Greg Rathje, library patron and chair of the Luce County Library board. “I remember often being the only patron in the library once school let out.”

Today, Rathje said, the library is cherished by many area patrons, including students and teachers at the attached Tahquamenon Area Schools. “There are lots more books, services, and programs than ever before,” Rathje said.

Voters have twice renewed the library millage during Mindykowski’s tenure, Rathje said, which he takes as proof of how much the library is now appreciated.

“Dion is the reason for these changes we’ve seen in the past 10 years,” Rathje said. “He created a successful library for our students and the public. Dion deserves our deepest thanks.”

Sue Tokar was part of the committee that hired Mindykowski 10 years ago.

“I have watched as he used his quiet and efficient style to expand our collection, upgrade our technology services, and make the library a welcoming place for community members of all ages,” said Tokar, who is president of the library board. “No detail goes unnoticed, and nothing waits long for a solution if needed.”

Tokar praised Mindykowski for working so hard to create an environment that would interest teens and bring them into the library.

Mindykowski is also known for his love of extreme sports – he has competed in many endurance races and even grueling events called “death races”.

“His experiences resulted in a program that drew a range of patrons,” Tokar said.

Mindykowski admits his interest in extreme endurance races is still making his phone ring, as area groups are still interested in having him visit to discuss them.

As Mindykowski works on tying up loose ends before his departure, his next steps aren’t determined, but he says he will be exploring his options outside the library field. The library is currently creating a job posting to fill his position.

“The next director will surely bring new ideas and new experiences that will be a great asset to the future of the library,” he said.