Living on a commercial gillnetter as a child, off the coast of southeast Alaska, Bethany Hoglund, 39, discovered her true passion for reading and appreciation for libraries.
In between fishing trips with her parents and siblings, Hoglund would fill a laundry basket with books from the local library to take to the sea. To escape some of the chores on the boat Hoglund would volunteer at the library.
“Growing up on a fishing boat with my whole family where you are out on the water for five days at a time, you have to find an escape from your family and I did that through reading,” Hoglund said.
Hoglund was born in Bellingham and started working in the library in 1996 while still in high school. She graduated from Western Washington University with her bachelor’s in English. She continued her education and earned her master’s degree from the University of Washington in the library and information sciences and is currently working as the head of youth services at the Bellingham Public Library.
“I am so proud of the youth services team, it is an amazing group,” Hoglund said. “I think its a big accomplishment when you can build a team really well and because of that we serve the community really well.”
The library works hard to involve the community and offer its free services, programs and resources. We try to do as much community outreach as we possibly can, Hoglund said.
Some of the ways the Bellingham Public Library works to foster community is through events such as the Birchwood International Market, Youth Pride and collaborations with the Bellingham School District.
Working in the youth services department and children’s library, Hoglund invites families and patrons to embrace the idea of whole child development and understand that children learn best through play.
“Trying to change the perception of the library and the role that libraries can play in people’s family and through their childhood has been difficult but a fun challenge,” Hoglund said. “When you have 100 kids under the age of three and their parents in the children’s section it isn’t always exactly quiet.”
In both professional capacities at the library and with her family, Hoglund values connection and inclusion with those around her. My 5-year old just started kindergarten this fall and I have recently joined his school’s Parent Teacher Association, Hoglund said.
“If you are going to build a community you have to bring everyone in,” Hoglund said. “You have to be able to understand each other’s differences yet recognize we are the same.