Longtime Library Director Sandra Hannahs will retire Dec. 1 and former technology librarian Carissa Hansen will take the helm as library director.

After 13 years at the West Fargo library, 12 of which were spent as director, Hannahs said she decided to retire this year.

Her retirement comes just as the library is transitioning to a new library management software and public access catalog in early December.

"We thought why have someone come in and learn the old system just to have to learn a whole new system right away?" she said.

Hansen, a Moorhead native, worked at the Hennepin County Library system, a system near the Twin Cities that serves about 1.2 million residents, for six years before coming to West Fargo as the technology librarian.

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"That really shaped who I am as a librarian," Hansen said.

Hansen said the West Fargo Public Library's focus on education and community drew her back to the area, but the staff of roughly 24 made the library where she hoped to work.

"We have a really driven and organized staff," Hansen said. "The staff stands out among any of the libraries I've worked at."

The library has grown to hold more than 66,000 books and 125,000 total materials, including ebooks.

As library director, Hannahs is in her third career. She became a librarian after teaching and working in translation. She previously taught Spanish and French at high school, college and adult education levels, spending 10 years in Durham, England.

She worked as a business translator in Paris and later with computer-assisted translation in New York and Connecticut.

The north Fargo native has bachelor’s degrees in Spanish and French from Minnesota State University Moorhead. She holds two master’s degrees in information and library management from the University of Northumbria in Newcastle, England, and translation from the Monterey (Calif.) Institute of International Studies.

In 2014, Hannahs was named Librarian of the Year by the North Dakota Library Association. She helped the library incorporate fast-paced changes in technology and increased community services as well as outreach.

As Hansen pointed out, Hannahs helped introduce West Fargo to Library2Go, which nearly all libraries in North Dakota now use. Library2Go is a system that offers library users free access to books, movies, e-books, e-audiobooks and e-movies on home computers or portable devices.

“People from across the state all have access to the same collection of books,” she said.

The wanderlust-struck Hannahs said she's not sure what retirement will hold, but she's looking forward to planning for the future.

For Hansen, she plans to build the future on much of the work Hannahs has already started, with a focus on keeping up with the growing needs of the state's fastest-growing city.

Hansen said she plans to continue community outreach and offering a variety of services to residents.

"Nowhere else can you go and get the services you can get from libraries with having virtually nothing asked of you in return," "Libraries are still viewed as just for books. I want people to see us differently."

As part of the transition to the Online Dakota Information Network, the West Fargo library cannot accept interlibrary loan requests, which are borrower requests for items owned by other libraries, from Nov. 15 to Dec. 31. Patrons are still able to check out items owned by the West Fargo Public Library during that time.

A number of new and enhanced library features will be available to West Fargo Public Library patrons once the software transition is complete.

The public is invited to an open house to wish Hannahs well and welcome Hansen 4-6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 26, at the library.