Newport This Week

This Week’s Conversation with Moriah Hoefgen

A New Face at the Newport Public Library

Moriah Hoefgen greets patrons at the Newport Public Library’s new Welcome Desk. (Photo by Susan Duca)

Moriah Hoefgen greets patrons at the Newport Public Library’s new Welcome Desk. (Photo by Susan Duca)

Moriah Hoefgen is the newest face at the Newport Public Library. As head of Circulation Services, she is responsible for the books coming in and going out, which is a big number. Last month, the library’s daily average checkouts were 329 books, plus another 245 media items. Besides rolling out the new welcome desk, she manages a staff of 11.

What got you interested in working for a library? My lifelong love affair with books started before I can even remember. I started reading when I was 3 and never stopped. I spent a big part of my childhood at my neighborhood branch of the Cambridge [Massachusetts] Public Library. I was part of all the clubs, and had close relationships with the librarians. My love of reading and all things book-related led me to major in English Literature in college. I wanted to do something that combines my love of reading with my desire to help people. My decision to … pursue a career in libraries was a natural progression. It’s great to feel like I’m doing exactly what I’m meant to do.

Where were you before moving to Newport? I worked at the Cambridge Public Library for five years, two years in Circulation and three years in Collection Services. In 2017 … I got my master’s degree in Library and Information Science from Simmons College in Boston.

How was the move? It all happened pretty fast. I heard about the job, applied, interviewed, got it, and moved down here in July, all in less than a month. Surprisingly, I found an apartment pretty easily. I can walk to the beach and the library, my two favorite places.

How many books does the library have? We have around 129,000 physical items in the circulating collection; about 109,000 of these are books. We also have an expansive and ever-growing digital collection.

What is your favorite part of the welcome desk? I really like the idea that patrons see a friendly face as soon as they walk in the door. Someone is there to help them right away.

What are some current or future plans you have for the library? Right now, the welcome desk is a big focus, and plays into my commitment to providing top-notch customer service to every single person who walks into the library.

Are there any programs from your previous experience that you would like to see implemented here? One thing that was a big deal in Cambridge is merchandising, and that’s something I’d like to develop here in Newport. This would mean presenting library materials in new and eye-catching ways to increase visibility and engagement.

Are there any unique programs the library offers? I could see right away that it’s a special place. We have an avid, engaged, and loyal patron base that really takes advantage of what the library has to offer. I was immediately impressed by all the programming we have. There’s a little something for everyone, from storytime to chess club to 3D printing.

What is your favorite part of Newport Public Library? The people! Libraries are so much more than book repositories these days; they’re community gathering spaces. I love the way the library draws Newport’s residents together, and serves as a focal point for the city. All roads lead to the library.

What is your favorite book? That’s a tough one! I have a lot of favorites. I can say that my favorite kind of book to read is one that opens my gaze and illuminates unseen human connections.

What are you reading now? I’m almost done with Deborah Levy’s “The Man Who Saw Everything,” and I’m on the hunt for my next read. When I finish a book, I usually go for what I call a “palate cleanser,” something entirely different from the last thing I read. If I read some particularly cerebral literary fiction, then my next pick might be a fun thriller.

Do you have a favorite author? That’s another hard one. I love so many writers. One favorite is David Foster Wallace, who managed to be incredibly poignant and funny at the same time. Unfortunately, he’s no longer with us, so there’s only so much of his work out there. Karl Ove Knausgaard might be my favorite living writer.

Is there anything you want the people of Newport to know about the library? It’s all free, and it’s all for you. The library has so much to offer, maybe more than most people realize. For example, we put out the newest movies on DVD and Blu-Ray the day they’re released. We also offer museum passes and an array of digital resources, such as e-books, audiobooks and music. Where else in the world can you walk in empty-handed and leave with armfuls of goodies without spending a penny?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.