April 20, 2018

Tysha Shay | Movers & Shakers 2015 — Innovators



Reference Manager, Springfield-Greene County Library District, MO

MLIS, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2002


Photo by Bob Stefko

Senior Storyteller

For Tysha Shay, serving patrons who are traditionally overlooked and underserved is a mission. Inspired by her time as a caregiver for her grandmother, who developed dementia and later Alzheimer’s, Shay became sensitized to the struggles of older adults and wondered how she could better serve them. In 2012, she developed Stories for Life, an outreach program in which she visits facilities throughout Springfield, MO, each month to share stories with residents as well as read poetry, play interactive memory games, and highlight historical or local information. Shay is dedicated to providing services to community members who, for various reasons, can no longer visit the library in person.

To date, Stories for Life has had over 1,500 participants and has brought older adult services and programming to prominence at the Springfield–Greene County Library District. Shay has asked the district to keep the older adult programming statistics separate from all other adult statistics, allowing staff to analyze how effectively they are serving these patrons. Colleague Renee Brumett praises Shay for her “passion for recognizing and meeting community needs.” The most rewarding aspect, says Shay, is hearing from patrons who are elated that library services are being brought directly to them. Among the most requested programs: Missouri outlaws, orphan trains, and rural medicine.

Shay also has taken a leadership role in the Alzheimer’s & Related Dementia Interest Group of the American Library Association’s Association for Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA). “[I hope] to bring library services and programs to this target audience into the forefront and mainstream of librarianship.”

This article was published in Library Journal. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.



  1. Brenda Bradshaw says:

    Kudos to Tysha for providing such a wonderful experience for seniors!

  2. Lori Fuoss says:

    I read of your activities with interest. I would love to have more information. As a newly retired teacher and children’s librarian, I can see the possibilities of a program like this in Central Illinois.

  3. Michael Plumley says:

    When I worked as a military librarian, about 15% of my patronage was retired military. I was more like a bartender to some of them in a lot of ways. Some of them were lonesome and just needed someone to talk to. I wanted to set up an oral history project to get some of their stories on video, but budget constraints ended that. Ms. Shay has the right idea in trying to engage the minds of seniors and reaching outside the library to do so.