When Esther Moberg was 17 years old working as a page in the Astoria Library, the thought of becoming one of the most influential librarians in Oregon was not on her mind.
Starting in September, Moberg will take over as the president of the Oregon Library Association. She is the director of Seaside Public Library, and has been working in the library world for more than 14 years. The library association elected her at the end of May for a yearlong term.
As president, it will be Moberg’s job to advocate for the health and well-being of all academic, public, school and special libraries throughout Oregon, she said. She will often be at the same table as government officials and publishers and will organize conferences to help give Oregon’s libraries a unified voice.
“It’s such an honor. It says your peers respect you enough to give you this kind of responsibility,” Moberg said. “It’s all about giving back.”
She said she decided to run after the nominating committee reached out to her, recommending her as a viable candidate. Before this, she had been involved with the library association for about five years, serving on a variety of conference and award committees.
Love at young age
Her love for libraries started at a young age, she said. She was home-schooled, which meant going on multiple trips to the library for learning materials.
“I think I read through the entire children’s section of the Astoria Library,” Moberg laughed.
The former library director Bruce Berney offered her a job as a page because “he was seeing me in the library every week anyway,” she said.
Her experience in working with rural libraries will end up being an asset as president, current president Elsa Loftis said.
“She knows the dynamics. We like to have broad geographic representation of communities outside the Portland and Salem corridor and we’re always trying to find ways to support rural and special libraries,” Loftis said. “I know she’s passionate about all libraries, and that’s what it takes.”
Some of Moberg’s goals as president are tackling lack of funding for libraries across the board, as well as making the needs of small, rural libraries like Warrenton — which runs with only one paid staff person — a priority.
“Sometimes people don’t realize how critical these grants and resources are to libraries like these,” Moberg said.
Early childhood literacy
She also hopes to focus on her longtime passion of supporting early childhood literacy. Moberg has been a main player in the Libraries Reading Outreach in Clatsop County program that helps rural kids get access to public library cards for free. She also hopes to develop ways to help libraries be more proactive about securing more modern technology resources, she said.
But what Moberg is most excited about is what she finds the most rewarding aspect of the job: honoring people in the industry for exemplary work.
“I get the great job of being the one who gets to say ‘thank you,’” she said. “(Libraries) do a lot of things well, but we’re not great about always telling people about it. It’s my job to let everyone know.”