Prospect Library gets its man

John Wiehn, of Waterbury, was hired this month as library director for Prospect Public Library. –RA ARCHIVE

John Wiehn, of Waterbury, was hired this month as library director for Prospect Public Library. –RA ARCHIVE

PROSPECT — The town’s new library director hopes to bring more adult programs to the Prospect Public Library, as he did for the Howard Whittemore Memorial Library in Naugatuck.

A lifelong Waterbury resident, John Wiehn, 51, who was head of reference and adult programs at Whittemore, said he saw a need to draw more men to the borough library. So he started, among other adult programs, a sports author series that buoyed up that number.

He wants to bring similar programs to Prospect.

Wiehn, who lives in the Hopeville section of Waterbury, began his new job as library director Feb. 4. He will be paid about $50,000 a year.

Wiehn replaces Library Director Barbara Smith, who retired from the position after serving in it for 13 years, town officials said.

Wiehn is the first man to lead the library since about the 1950s, Mayor Robert Chatfield said. Wiehn came with a lot of energy, he said.

“Naugatuck’s loss is our gain,” Chatfield said.

Wiehn said he worked at the Whittemore Library from 2001 to the end of January. He began as a substitute and worked his way up to the head of reference in 2002; he became head of the adult programming department the next year.

From 1986 to 2000, he worked at General DataComm when it was located in Middlebury, where he was the engineering and corporate librarian. He previously worked for six months as the reference librarian at the Russell Library in Middletown.

Sue McKernan, chairwoman of the library board, said Wiehn will be the first man to lead the new library at 17 Center St. The new library was built in 1990.

Wiehn’s experience made him stand out. The board received eight to 10 applications, she said.

The library has wonderful children programs but very limited adult programs, McKernan said. The board believes adults are an underserved portion of the community, and it wants to do more for them, she said.

“I just think he will be a wonderful fit for the library,” McKernan said.

Wiehn said he is looking forward to meeting people, and he has already started that by eating at different restaurants for lunch and being introduced around.

“It’s such an open and friendly community,” Wiehn said.

He not only loves reading, but he also is a book author.

Wiehn wrote, along with Mark Heiss of Prospect, a story of the Brass City through vintage postcards from 1890 to 1930. It is published through Arcadia Publishing.

He also is active in the community. He serves as the vice president for the Connecticut Ancient Order of Hibernians and is a member and past president of the Hibernians in Naugatuck and is the president of the Naugatuck Lions Club.

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