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'Libraries Are at the Heart of Everything I Love'

'Libraries Are at the Heart of Everything I Love'

Adult Services Librarian, Thea Hart, shares what inspired her career path, a must-read feminist author and some of her favorite places to go birding in Washington County.
Librarian standing in front of book display

To celebrate Women’s History Month, we’re spotlighting some of our incredible staff who work diligently on the front line and behind the scenes to provide WCCLS patrons unmatched library services.

Meet Thea Hart, Adult Services Librarian at West Slope Library, on the border between the Raleigh Hills and West Slope neighborhoods, and the only one governed by Washington County. In 2018 Hart joined the staff at West Slope Library, where she plans the adult events and hosts the patron-led library book group. She helps patrons with one-on-one technology assistance, personalized book recommendations and research support. She also supervises four part-time library assistants.

She sat down to talk with the editor of this fine blog to chat about the epiphany that inspired her to become a librarian, a must-read feminist author and the bounty of birdwatching opportunities in Washington County. Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

WCCLS: What inspired you to become a librarian?

TH: I double-majored in English and geography, and that doesn’t always have a clear next step. As I was soul searching after college, I went to visit my brother who was going to school in Bozeman at the time. I had a couple hours to kill, and I told him to point me in the direction of the library. He did not know the location of his public library or his college library! That was my aha moment – I had always oriented my life around the library.

Libraries are at the heart of everything I love: access to information, freedom of expression, community gathering, literature, people, helping people. I never made it to the library in Bozeman. Instead, I spent that time researching how to become a librarian.

WCCLS: What is your favorite part of your job?

TH: Helping patrons find what they need whether that’s their next great read or information they’ve been trying to track down or a book club to participate in. I love offering direct support and connecting people to information and recreation.

WCCLS: What’s something people may not know about West Slope Library?

TH: We are located next to this beautiful park, Raleigh Park and Swim Center. Often on my breaks, I’ll go for a walk and there’s this lovely creek where I like to listen to the sound of the water. I’m also a big birder. I’ve seen brown creepers, varied thrushes, dark-eyed juncos and American robins.

Also, we had the first board game collection at WCCLS. One of my favorite board games is Wingspan, which is also about birds!

WCCLS: What are you currently reading or watching?

TH: I’m reading The Long Way to A Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers and it is really good. I had two friends recommend it. It’s about a team of people living and working together, and it shows how much they care for one another. They bring their unique and authentic selves to the table. It shows how we can come together in solidarity and do great things.

WCCLS: What does a typical weekend look like for you?

TH: Chasing around my 2-year-old and 4-year-old and reading to them. I love to go hiking. Most recently I took my kids to Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve. We got to see lots of cool birds.

WCCLS: Who is a woman you admire?

TH: bell hooks, who passed away in 2021. Before that, I had just read a book of hers and went digging to see what else we have in our collection. I love her vision of inclusive feminism; her writing is so crystal clear and beautiful and precise. I admire it so much.

More from our Women's History Month staff spotlights:

Bringing a Passion for Social Work and Different Culture to Youth Services

Creating Order Out of Chaos

Too Much Fun