The friendly and helpful library clerks that you see as you enter the Sonoita library are Dot Rhodes and Jennifer Riehl. Rhodes will greet you Mondays and Thursdays, Riehl is there Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. 

Jennifer Riehl (above) and Dot Rhodes (below) share their love of reading with patrons of the Sonoita Library. Photo by Jo Dean

The famous quote by George R.R. Martin, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies…The man who never reads lives only one,” certainly applies to Rhodes and Riehl. They are both voracious readers. Rhodes reads one to four books per week and Reihl reads one to two books per week. Their love of reading transfers to their ability to help library patrons find books that will interest and appeal to each patron’s interests. 

Riehl is a Tucson native. She attended Pima Community College, married, and has raised two children who are now in their early twenties. She is looking forward to the approaching wedding of her daughter and a trip to visit their son stationed in Italy with the Air Force. She and her husband have been in Sonoita since 2013 and are active in the Sonoita Hills Community Church, hiking, camping, birding, and gardening. Before coming to work at the Sonoita Library, she worked for over ten years with the Vail School District as a media specialist, ‘parapro’ in the classroom and with speech therapy. 

Photo by Marion Vendituoli

Rhodes was born and raised on Long Island. She graduated from Rhode Island School of Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in textile design. After graduation, she worked for five years in New York City in the textile trade. In 1966 she joined the Army Special Services with her first duty in Korea. She transferred to Fort Huachuca in 1970 to become the Director of the Service Club off-post at the current Landmark Plaza location. 

With the opening of the new Murr Recreation Center on Fort Huachuca in 1973, Rhodes worked to improve the services and programs available for soldiers and their family members. After retirement she built her straw bale home in the Sonoita area in 1997. 

The Sonoita library clerk job was a volunteer position in 2000 when she first started at the library. For five years she volunteered until a state grant provided funds to pay for two part time library clerk positions starting in 2005. She estimates she has read close to 1000 books just from the Sonoita Library, not including books from interlibrary loan and other libraries in the area. 

Her long history of volunteerism includes involvement with the development of the Friends of the San Pedro River, serving as the organization’s president for seven years, promoting the docent program, youth education, bookstore, bird banding and leading hikes along the river.

Riehl and Rhodes both find that the most rewarding part of working at the library is the interaction with the library patrons and assisting with research. They both have made the library a pleasant and friendly space where one can visit, read, study, and most days have a cup of coffee and a snack while enjoying a quiet and pleasant reprieve.