2017-08-31 / Around Town

A Fresh Face at Newport Public Library

Conversation with Joe Logue
By Brooke Constance White

Joe Logue is the new director of the Newport Public Library. Joe Logue is the new director of the Newport Public Library. Joe Logue has worked in a lot of places but his favorite so far is a library. Although the 59-yearold has always wanted to become a librarian, and took the long way there, he says he doesn’t regret a single minute of the journey. After 10 years as branch manager of the Cambridge Public Library’s historic Collins Branch, Logue has come to Newport and is entering his second month as executive director of the Newport Public Library. Newport This Week sat down with the bibliophile to chat about life experience, his current reads and how libraries are morphing beyond the Dewey Decimal System.

You wanted to become a librarian as a child. What was it about libraries that you loved so much?

I think you can never convince someone to be a librarian and there’s a huge amount of self-selection in it. As a teenager, libraries brought me great solace. I used to go to libraries because I was a quiet kid who liked to be alone. The fact that no one ever asked me what I was doing in the library on a school day influenced me greatly. The lesson I took from that is that it’s nobody’s business why you’re in the library. It’s a warm, welcoming place where everyone is safe and it all goes back to respecting patron privacy.

What took you so long to become a librarian?

I never could have been a college freshman when I was 18, so instead I ended up being a 40-yearold freshman at the University of Massachusetts-Boston. After that, I graduated from Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science. The reason I decided to go to school in the first place is because I was laid off from the PR firm I was working for in 1995 and figured it was time to make a change. So I called the Boston Public Library to find out how to become a librarian. I think my guardian angel answered because in a two minute phone call, this woman who answered told me everything I needed to know about where to go to school and how the process works. It took me 10 years to finish it all but I did it.

Now you’re more than a decade in. Do you still love it?

It calls upon many of the experiences I’ve had in my adult life. As a waiter, it’s all about customer service and reading people and I think there’s a lot of that in libraries as well. You need to anticipate the needs of the patrons. You can’t wait until a book is a bestseller; you have to get it ahead of time. The stereotype of the quiet, boot-centric, cubicle-shuttered librarian is long past. Now you have to be warm and welcoming, safe and secure. You have to follow the trends and make sure that everything you’re doing is evolving and inviting to patrons. It’s great!

What do you think a library should provide for the community?

The library is a great equalizer where everyone is welcome. We’re here to serve everyone, full stop, period. Everyone who resides in the area needs the library, and I’m passionate about making sure that everyone feels welcome here.

Are there any programs or initiatives you’re looking to start in Newport?

I was rather shameless in getting

in touch with authors for events in Cambridge, so I hope to do some author events in Newport and invite people to come and speak. I also did a rendition of “The Great British Baking Show” there and invited professional bakers to come in and be judges. The programs are planned about three to four months out, and so if I do decide to roll out a program, I certainly don’t want to step on any toes since there [are] a lot of amazing programs already taking place here.

What are you reading right now?

“Call Me by Your Name” by Andre Aciman, and a Richard Nixon biography by John Farrell. There’s a new novel called “Burning Girl” by Claire Messud that I’m looking forward to reading soon. She’s a remarkable writer. I spoke with the collection development librarian and once things calm down, we want to do book chats with patrons so we can involve them and hear what they’re excited to read so we’re getting the right books. Patrons come in a lot to visit and make requests so I hope we can evolve and respond to those requests.

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