February 17, 2018

Amy Shelley | Movers & Shakers 2003

Moving Out


When Amy Shelley talks about one of the wide variety of children’s and outreach programs she has instituted over the last five years, she seems to always begin, “We got a grant and….” Grant-writing is not in her job description. “It’s just something I have taken on,” she says. “There are so many wonderful opportunities out there, I have a hard time letting them go by.”

Shelley recalls how one such opportunity led to the establishment of a local National Connections program, which uses biographies written for children to teach English as a second language as well as American culture to immigrant adults. It began with a grant from the Vermont Council for the Humanities that Shelley and some colleagues conceived as they drove home one evening. When that money ran out, she turned to local sources to keep it going. “I will talk to anyone, from the Rotary Club to Wal-Mart,” she says. “You have to when you have a program that is so successful. We have people who just keep renewing because it is important for them – people from all over, Russia and Korea, not just Latinos.”

In fact, outreach to the growing Latino community is one of Shelley’s main focuses. “They are ten percent of our population, but that is not who we see coming through our doors,” she explains. “We have made it part of our strategic plan to improve services to them.” All library forms have been translated so as not to alienate new users. And she is running a six-week discussion group, incorporating three films and three books, to help “open a dialog about Latino culture, about racism, about opportunities and the lack of them.” She also just received a Met Life grant to bring in an author and do training with mentors during a statewide Latino conference that will be held in Cheyenne next fall.

It is when talking about underserved children that Shelley becomes truly passionate. She sends a second staff person on bookmobile runs to low-income areas to do youth programs, and she is working to piggyback bookmobile service onto a new YMCA program that will bring art on a bus to five disadvantaged neighborhoods. “An important focus has to be serving kids who are not getting into the building,” Shelley insists.




Current Position: Manager, Youth and Outreach Service Division, Laramie County Library Central Branch, Cheyenne, WY

Degree: MS, Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1997

Teaches: Library Services for Youth, University of Missouri at Columbia Outreach Program