Entrepreneur SEEN

Deborah Mohatarem

Published December 29, 2014 by
Board Member of the Friends of the Baldwin Public Library

Meet Beverly Hills resident Deborah Mohatarem, a board member of the Friends of the Baldwin Public Library and the chair of its twice yearly book sale.

An only child, Deborah grew up in northwestern Ohio and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Denison University in Granville, about 30 miles east of Columbus. Later, she managed the book department and worked as a buyer at a Hallmark store before moving to Beverly Hills in 1982.

“We relocated to the area after my husband got a job at General Motors,” she says. “I was thrilled because I’ve always loved it here. As a child, our family would often make trips to Metro Detroit and places like Frankenmuth and Mackinac Island. I encourage my friends from out-of-town to visit us because it’s such a beautiful state with a lot to offer.”

Upon her arrival, Deborah immediately started working as a volunteer and hasn’t looked back since.

“My passion for volunteering was instilled at an early age,” she says. “My mother was a volunteer for our local elementary school library. She was very active her whole life and believed strongly in giving back. I do as well.”

Industry changes: Nowadays, information is instantly available. We’ve gone from a very hands-on experience with card catalogs and having to research things in encyclopedias to having everything right at your fingertips with digital media and the Internet. Libraries have embraced that and continued to evolve. They remain dynamic places and offer so many opportunities for learning in a wide variety of formats. People can even check out e-books and magazines through the library.

Professionally speaking: The Friends of Baldwin Public Library holds its book sales twice yearly, in May and November. We have over 10,000 books for people to choose from. For me, it’s a thrill to help someone find a new author or book that they haven’t heard of before. It is like leading them to a treasure.

Proud career accomplishment: I’ve had so many special moments working as a volunteer. In the past, I helped set up a library for abused children and was the chairperson of the board for a charity that worked with blind and dyslexic students. I worked as a recording studio volunteer, and we recorded textbooks for students who were struggling in school and had difficulty reading. Seeing them succeed and knowing that we helped in some way was a very rewarding experience.

Career thoughts: I truly believe it’s a privilege and honor to volunteer. We are lucky to live in a beautiful community, and it’s our responsibility to give back in some way.

Passion for: It should come as no surprise that I love to read! One of my favorite authors is Charles Dickens. For someone more recent, I enjoy the works of Diana Gabaldon. I had the pleasure of meeting her at a book signing earlier this year in Traverse City during the Cherry Festival.

Life in Beverly Hills: We’ve lived here for 32 years and it’s just perfect. It’s a very walkable city and I love our neighborhood. I like to spend a lot of time outdoors, and there are a wide variety of activities and things to do at Beverly Park.

Favorite place to hang out: I’m comfortable going to someplace casual with my friends and family. To me, company is more important than location, but if I had to pick an actual place, Toast in Birmingham and the Beverly Hills Grill are two of my favorite restaurants.

My perfect day: I like to explore new places and take photos. And when the day is done, I love to curl up with a good book and spend time with my husband and my cat.

What most people don’t know about me: People see me as quiet and introspective, which seems fitting because I volunteer at a library. But my secret dream is to drive around the track at the Indy 500. My father was a racing fan, and he first took me there when I was in junior high. Over the years, I’ve been back a few times and we have tickets for next year’s race. NS

– Interviewed by Matthew Totsky


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