Shout Out: Outgoing Library Director, Shannon Didier Ellis

A large part of the reason the Pemberton & District Public Library has been a recipient of a Winds of Change Wellness Recognition Award for three years running is the leadership and commitment to community of outgoing Library Director Shannon Didier Ellis.

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Lindsay May, Marnie Simon, Shannon Ellis and Henry McDermott, 2012 recipients of Winds of Change Wellness Recognition Awards

Maybe it’s because she has worn so many hats herself (bag designer, Crafty by Nature co-founder, Child Care Society board member, horticulturalist, runner, soccer coach, Chair of the Library Building Committee, conference speaker, trained facilitator, Kathy Barnett grant recipient, director of the Pemberton Health Care Foundation and Stewardship Pemberton Society, University student, mother) that Shannon has never seen the library as simply a repository of books.

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Instead, it’s truly a community hub, and a space to celebrate literacy of all types: civic literacy, computer literacy, media literacy…

“Story time is not about being hush, hush, hush. We have a dedicated children’s room and we have three different sets of story time for a variety of ages,” Shannon recently told the Whistler Question. “They get up and sing songs. Story time is really interactive. Kids programming is a huge part of what we do. Story time is a great way to keep your kids socialized and mothers sane. It also encourages early literacy skills and gets little ones ready for the first days of kindergarten.”

Something you never hear at the Pemberton & District Library from the librarian or staff:

Over the past 5 years, since Shannon took the torch from Pemberton’s founding librarian Jan Naylor, the Pemberton Library became the one of the only libraries in Canada to be fines-free, saw membership double to over 3000, and programming that ran the gamut from Seniors events to baby, toddler and pre-school storytimes, a knitting group, chess club, Summer Reading programs, Author visits, Legal Aid presentations, wellness seminars, a Girls Group, hosting of a writers group, Writers Festival and Community Story Harvests, social media and computer training programs, Junior Worldchangers workshops, growing salmon and spuds, discussions and screenings of films like Miss Representation, artist trading card craft station, kids art projects, games night, Scrabble sessions, slideshows, and guest speakers like Civic Activist Dave Meslin, who inspired the Village of Pemberton to change its public notices to a new award-winning design. (Phew.)

All of this happened with a staff of 5, on an annual operating budget of $309,000 a year. In short, if you had an idea for some kind of programming that had some kind of community benefit, you had an incredibly receptive audience in our Library Director, and a space that welcomed your contribution.

So, here’s a shout-out to Shannon Didier Ellis, for her commitment to our communities over the past 5 years. Thank you for your vision, energy, creativity and service. And good luck in the next chapter of your adventure.

On Tuesday, January 22nd, from 8pm, the Library Trustees and Friends will host a reception for Shannon after the AGM (7 – 7:45pm). Come by Room C at the Community Centre to say thanks and farewell.

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