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West Valley City Journal

N.E.W.T. University: County library conjures up adult continuing education classes for Harry Potter fans

Aug 24, 2018 02:21PM ● By Jana Klopsch

Avid Harry Potter fans Michelle, Jennifer and Lydia learn how to locate the major lines on their hands with help from Margaret Ruth. (Whitney Cox/City Journals)

By Whitney Cox | [email protected] 

The Salt Lake County Library responded to the popularity of Harry Potter-themed youth programs—O.W.L. Camp and Diagon Alley—by creating an adult program: N.E.W.T. University. 

“I was deluged with requests for adult O.W.L. Camp last year when we had O.W.L. Camp for the first time, because that was just a teen program…I used ‘N.E.W.T. University’ because in the senior year or the last year at Hogwarts you take your N.E.W.T.s,” said Liesl Seborg, senior librarian in outreach and programming. 

O.W.L. Camp is a week-long camp offered to teenagers. It is held at the Viridian Event Center in the summer, and teens have to enter a lottery system because it is so popular. This past summer, there were about 1,200 applicants for 700 slots. 

Diagon Alley programs are held for whole families at individual branches. The library implemented this program after the deluge of requests, hoping it would satisfy the demand, “but the adults were still crying out for more,” said Seborg. 

Seborg designed N.E.W.T. University as a series of continuing education classes held this summer. This is the first year it has been available and each class achieves a dual purpose: they teach skills applicable to everyday life and are classes that could easily be taught in the universe of Harry Potter. Herbology, gardening and “gnome proofing” was taught by a Professor Rosepetal. In Defense Against the Dark Arts (of Stress), attendees were taught how to take care of themselves, specifically by managing stress. For astronomy, attendees met in Magna on July 12 at sunset for a “night under the stars.” 

At the Hunter Library on Aug. 7, the class on Divination was held. If you happened to be at the library, you might have spotted Margaret Ruth dressed as the infamous Sybill Trelawney from the world of Harry Potter. You may also have noticed one or two “wizards-in-training” walking around in the black robes of Hogwarts students. 

Ruth graciously took part in the spirit of N.E.W.T. University by dressing up as rumored fraud Professor Trelawney, but all who attended her Divination lesson recognize she is no fraud. “We’re bringing in experts, like Miss Margaret Ruth, and she is an expert in her field beyond compare,” said Seborg. 

Ruth is a well-known metaphysical teacher and psychic. She teaches mind/body/spirit personal enrichment classes for the University of Utah. She has also been on national and regional radio and has written articles for well-known magazines, such as Huffington Post and Salt Lake Magazine. For more information, see

In the Divination lesson, Ruth focused on palmistry. She taught about the basic three lines: life, head and heart. “Lines can change. The past is better known from the lines,” taught Ruth.

She debunked the common myth of the “short lifeline” and helped students understand the correlation between events that had happened in their past and the placement and/or shape of the lines on their right hand. 

The library’s additional programming surrounding the world of Harry Potter continues to draw in fans of all ages.

“It’s about celebrating Harry Potter and the whole Hogwarts legacy,” said Seborg.