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Retiring library director looks behind, ahead


Hallie Yundt Silver has been an observer of Hannibal’s reading trends since she joined the Hannibal Free Public Library staff as director in 2007.

“I know the community,” she said. “I know what (books) circulate and what don’t. There are readers who like shorter adult fiction,” for example, what the industry calls novellas, between 120-150 pages. “There are short story readers, and those who like westerns.” But western readers these days are most likely to choose the large print versions, she noted. “And just because a book is a best seller in New York or California,” doesn’t necessarily mean it will be sought by local readers.

Yundt Silver’s career, including 16 years as library director in Hannibal, and 46 years since obtaining a master’s of library science degree from Indiana University in 1977, will come to the end on Sept. 6, when she officially retires.

“I have so much to do between now and then, but I’m ready to retire,” she said.


Her career will be celebrated at a public reception at the library on Oct. 5, details to be announced as the date nears. At that time the library’s new director, Caitlin Greathouse, will be introduced. The event will also serve as a fundraiser for the library’s current fund-raising campaign, “Raise the Roof.”

Retirement projects

Two projects are at the top of Yundt Silver’s “to do” list.

First, she wants to become a certified genealogist. “That entails some online classwork and a project. I have two projects I’m considering,” she said.

One is what she calls a sociological - or anthropological - study of the Hannibal census from the 1830 and 1840, “to see who the people were, why they were here, when their families left. Some stayed and some left. Did they come back?”

Another project involves her family and a quilt. “My father’s father was a minister, and when they left town, when he retired, (post World War II) the ladies of the church gave Grandmother a subscription quilt. It had a lot of different names embroidered on it, company names and personal names. It was a small church in that small Indiana town. That would make an interesting genealogical project,” she said.

Her husband, Gary Silver, was also a library director. When Hallie moved to Hannibal, he retired. He served as a volunteer for the Hannibal Foundation until his health failed him. He died in 2021.


“The library has been out of space since I got here, Yundt Silver said. “The books on the shelves are crowded; people don’t find things they are looking for; and they don’t browse because it is overwhelming. We have had to weed a lot of books that haven’t circulated in a couple of years.


“There has always been money to buy materials and AV and online resources,” Yundt Silver said. “A lot of it is because of the bequests we’ve received; we invest principal and only spend the interest. Depending what interest rates are, that can be a significant amount of money. But when rates go down …”

“We track numbers of people who come to the library. Since Covid our numbers have been slowly coming up for programs, but checkouts are still slow. People have so many other things to do. There is also an economic relationship. When the economy gets bad, the use of the library increases. When the economy improves, our usage decreases.

“If you are economizing, come check out DVDs. You might drop Audible from Amazon and check out audio books on CD or our free from our downloadable service.”

Budget hit

In July, Ralls County ended a long-standing usage agreement with the Hannibal library, “so now our budget is $30,000 + less than last year. As a result, whoever is doing collection development will have to be much more particular in what books and AV must be purchased. People will see changes in what formats are available.”


While the library’s accomplishments are many during her 16-year tenure in Hannibal, the accomplishment she is most proud of is staffing.

“We have developed a staff that is highly skilled, and works well together. They are approachable and friendly,” Yundt Silver said.


 *Developed a skilled, friendly staff who is able to meet the needs of the Hannibal community

 *Continued developing vibrant collection of books and other materials to meet the needs of Hannibal’s diverse community

 *Stabilized Hannibal Free Public Library’s finances during and after the financial crisis of 2007-2008. 

 *Introduced OverDrive through Missouri Libraries to Go and encouraged use of downloadable e-Biooks and e-Audiobooks, 2010

 *Oversaw the Bricks & Mortar Project, which replaced the mortar above the roof, re-caulked the skylight, and partially replaced the roof’s rubber membrane, 2013

 *Coordinated the replacement of the Library’s heat pumps, 2009, 2014, 2019, 2020

 *Participated in the Library’s Re-Carpeting Project, 2020

 *Oversaw the replacement of the book stacks on the 2nd floor, 2021

 *Saw the Library through the design process for the Roof & Skylight Project, and helped developed the Raise the Roof Capital Campaign.  Caitlin Greathouse is coordinating the Campaign.  The Library hopes to raise $200,000 before construction can begin in Spring 2025.



Note that Caitlin Greathouse, who will become library director on Sept. 7, actively participated in any projects after her hire date in July 2010.


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