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Rochester, MN (KROC AM) - Rochester will soon begin looking for a new leader of the city’s public library.

Longtime Director Audrey Betcher announced her retirement Wednesday. She will officially step down early next year.

Audrey Betcher, Rochester Public Library Director - photo by Kim David, Townsquare Media

According to a news release from the library, Betcher “says the pandemic gave her a new perspective on what she wants to do in the coming years. I’m ready to spend time with family and friends, and do more traveling and exploring. I also have a few volunteer opportunities to keep me busy.”

Betcher has been RPL director for 21 years.

Library Board President Antinea Ascione says Betcher is credited with guiding the library through significant changes over the last few years, earning the organization local, state, and national recognition. Ascione says Betcher’s leadership during the last decade, especially her commitment to meeting the needs of the community, was critical to the library winning the 2018 National Medal for Museum and Library Services.

The news release adds:

"When Betcher started at RPL as the Assistant Director in 1996, libraries across the nation were grappling with how technology might change community needs. According to Betcher, “We were still loaning out VHS tapes, audio cassettes, and vinyl records in 1996.”

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Wow! Check out how Rochester has changed throughout the years in these Google photos.

As we are soaring down Hwy 52, it is hard to imagine what life was like in our town before the Target store was built where it is today. Or the house that you live in now, at one point in town, that wasn't there. In fact, Rochester has grown so fast throughout the years, most of our houses weren't even around 50 years ago! Don't believe me? Look through these photos to get a glimpse of what Rochester was like years ago.