2011-03-03 / Front Page

New library director describes post as her ‘dream job’

By Tim Riel


Donna Fogarty is the new director at the Jamestown Philomenian Library. Photo by Jeff McDonough Donna Fogarty is the new director at the Jamestown Philomenian Library. Photo by Jeff McDonough For the first time in 24 years, the Jamestown Philomenian Library has a new director. Donna Fogarty, who is leaving her decade-long job as circulation supervisor for the South Kingstown Public Library, began her new position as director this week following the retirement of Judy Bell.

“The library is beautiful and there is a great staff,” said Fogarty, who trained with Bell for nine days before taking over. “They have done a tremendous job.”

Although Fogarty’s library profession came as career change later in life, it was her love of reading that inched her towards her calling. Born in East Greenwich, she remembers going on a camping trip while in high school. Sleeping under the stars and the call of the wild weren’t of any substance to her – she remembers one thing from the trip.

“My mother gave me a copy of ‘The Catcher in the Rye,’” Fogarty said, “and all I did on that camping trip was read. I forgot everything else about that trip except that book.”

After graduating from East Greenwich High School, Fogarty enrolled at the University of New Hampshire where she studied English. She moved to Vermont in 1979, a couple years after graduating college. She married and had two children, Michael and Jessica, who both still reside in Vermont.

Fogarty began working as a case manager at a mental health care center and at the same time volunteered at the Windsor Public Library. In 1994, the library was looking for a new director. Although Fogarty didn’t have a Master of Library Science, Harriet McGraw – “my mentor of sorts” – recommended her for the job and Fogarty was offered the position. She accepted.

“I left a full-time job, for a parttime job,” Fogarty said. Over the next seven years, Fogarty continued to work as director of the Windsor Public Library and began taking classes through the Vermont Department of Libraries towards her master’s degree.

Since it was only part-time gig, Fogarty wanted to expand her horizons and began to look for a fulltime position in the region. She came across an opening for a circulation supervisor at the South Kingstown Public Library. It was a fulltime job with benefits so she took a shot and sent a cover letter and her resume. The library showed interest, so she took the four-hour trip south for an interview. She was hired and began in August 2001. She held the position up until recently when she accepted the job in Jamestown.

Fogarty, who lives in Wakefield with her husband Mark Sweitzer, said that her focus here would be community involvement. “I want to talk to [the Jamestown library staff] and see what we think we could do better,” she said. “I know that I would like to get more involved with the Teen Center and the schools. I am open to any ideas.”

As for hobbies? “I love to read,” Fogarty said. Her favorite book is “Snow” by Orhan Pamuk and she is currently reading biographies on J.D. Salinger and Emily Dickinson. Along with tradition books, Fogarty also uses an e-book for reading and listens to titles on her MP3 player while jogging. She also enjoys reading to her 18-month-old grandson, Wyatt.

“The library gets great support in this community,” Fogarty said. “It’s a dream job.”

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