Library job part of major life change for Wessel

Less than two years ago, Katherine Wessel was a city-dwelling single woman with a corporate job and "living very much a bachelorette lifestyle." Today, she's living in Hinsdale with her partner, David Chiang, helping to raise Chiang's pre-teen twins and enjoying a very different work environment at the Hinsdale Public Library.

"I made a 180-degree switch when I moved to Hinsdale," Wessel said. It's a change she does not regret.

Not long after moving in with Chiang and his two children, Wessel learned of the Hinsdale Public Library's need for an office manager. Wessel already had become a regular visitor to the library, which offered her a sense of community and a resource to feed her reading habit.

"I've never had a job I loved this much," Wessel said.

She enjoys interacting with her new neighbors and helping them to make the most of the library and all it has to offer.

A native of tiny Teutopolis in southern Illinois, Wessel grew up without access to a library. It wasn't until she attended Illinois State University that she experienced the vast resources that a library can offer.

Wessel said that at any time, she's typically enjoying several of those resources simultaneously. A fan of audio books, she's currently reading a book about medieval history, the New York Times bestseller "Bittersweet," and "The Sweet Life," which is giving her insight into life with diabetes.

Diabetes is yet another change that came to Wessel's life after meeting Chiang. He and his 11-year-old son both are Type 1 diabetics, Wessel said.

"I'm trying to learn more about living with someone with diabetes," she said, including how to cook meals for her new family. As one of six kids growing up in rural Illinois, she was raised on large portions and plenty of meat and potatoes.

"I grew up with really starchy, hearty meals," she said. While delicious, those meals don't fit the needs of someone with diabetes. In learning to prepare diabetic-friendly meals, Wessel said she's also enjoying a healthier diet.

The library also has made its way into another part of Wessel's life. A member of the Hinsdale Junior Woman's Club and co-chair of its community affairs committee, Wessel is helping to organize a monthly series of "I Spy" dioramas for the library. Each month, a member of the Hinsdale Junior Woman's Club enlists the help of her family to create a themed box of objects for the library display. Beside each box is a list of objects hidden inside that children and other admirers are challenged to find.

Wessel said February will offer boxes for Black History Month and Valentine's Day. While March's theme is still in the works, Wessel and her family will create a rain-themed box for April.

"They've been a hit," Wessel said of the dioramas.

Wessel said the Junior Woman's Club has been "a godsend" that has helped her to meet people and become part of the Hinsdale community.

"I'm a new Hinsdalean," Wessel said.

But it's a place she said already feels like home.

- story by Sandy Illian Bosch, photo by Jim Slonoff

Author Bio

Sandy Illian Bosch is a contributing writer to The Hinsdalean