There’s a new library director in Pembroke, and he’s off to a good start 


Monitor staff

Published: 03-10-2023 7:01 PM

On the first day of his new job six months ago, Ryan O’Hora quickly discovered that he had landed in the perfect spot, right where he belonged.

The new Pembroke library director was familiar with the area. He grew up in Allenstown and graduated from Pembroke Academy in 2011. His wife, Lindsay Byrne-O’Hora, also graduated from Pembroke Academy. Her mother, in fact, used to take little Lindsay and her sisters to the town’s library, some 20 years ago.

So on that first day, as O’Hora re-familiarized himself with an old friend, he walked past a pile of photos from yesteryear – taken by a Polaroid camera and sitting in a basket – and saw an old photo of his mother-in-law and wife, smiling.

Yes, he belonged.

“Our assistant director keeps a scrapbook,” said O’Hora, who’s 29. “It’s the history of Pembroke. I thought it was more cool than strange. I was like, ‘Hey, that’s my wife in that picture.’ I knew this was the perfect opportunity.”

O’Hora already has a feather in his cap in Pembroke, securing a $13,200 grant last month from Granite United Way and the Capital Area Public Health Network.

With limited experience that included just four years as a student assistant at Keene State’s library but nothing professional, O’Hora, just five months into the job, suggested a plan to focus more on children’s development and their relationships with parents, while also transforming libraries into community centers with more visibility and programs to offer residents.

As part of the grant, O’Hora will be sent to Long Island, N.Y., this fall, for a four-day conference that will feature new-and-improved ideas and methods. Caitlin Velasquez, the children’s librarian in Pembroke, will accompany O’Hora.

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“I had said that I wanted a family place in the library,” O’Hora explained. “I had this idea and they were looking to add strengths to the libraries and support families with young children, building a foundation with local partnerships.”

O’Hora has a master’s degree in library and information science from the University of Rhode Island. In past years, as he moved through his 20s, he lived a hectic life, working fulltime as a case manager, studying for his undergraduate degree at Keene State College, waiting tables and putting in as many hours as he could at the Keene State library to learn whatever he could about his future career.

He said he was busy six days per week for as many as 15 hours a day. He said his part-time work at the Keene State’s Mason Library convinced him to make his hometown library a special place, with his signature on it. He feels confident that he made the right choice.

“I saw the little basket about the library’s history,” O’Hora said. “I said that I may know some people in (the photos). I saw her and her mom and her two sisters in tow. I knew we had come full circle.”