Shelley leaving GarCo libraries for Washington state |

Shelley leaving GarCo libraries for Washington state

Amelia Shelley, who has directed the Garfield County Public Library District through its formative years, including the construction of four libraries and two remodels, is leaving to take a job in Vancouver, Washington.

Shelley, who has been with the six-branch Garfield library district since December 2007, recently accepted the directorship for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District, a system that serves three counties with a population of 450,000 people and includes 14 libraries and two bookmobiles.

She is expected to turn in her formal resignation to the Garfield Library District board at its meeting tonight in Rifle, at which time the board will likely decide on an interim director and next steps to hire a new executive director.

“It’s not going to be easy leaving, I’ve been so happy here and I really love the job,” Shelley said.

“I’ve made so many personal connections here and we have such an amazing library staff,” she said. “I would also like to express my deep admiration for the library board that has led our organization during my tenure. Their support and faith in me has been a tremendous boon and the key to our success.”

Shelley said the new position will bring her and husband, Jim, closer to one of their grown children who lives in Vancouver and was recently married.

“It allows proximity to family, and is a new opportunity for some growth and to join another great organization,” she said.

Shelley took over the newly formed Garfield County Public Library District the year after county voters agreed to form the district and secure funding from an existing county sales tax to cover operations. Prior to that, the library system had operated under the auspices of county government.

During that same 2006 election, voters also agreed to implement a 1 mill property tax for 20 years to pay for what ended up being a total of $28 million worth of new library facilities spread among the six Garfield County towns served by the district.

The result was four brand new library buildings in Rifle, Silt, Glenwood Springs and Carbondale, and major remodels to facilities in Parachute and New Castle.

“What Amelia has brought to us is the professionalism to be able to oversee those projects,” said longtime library board members and current board president Nella Barker.

Even though she didn’t have any direct experience with construction projects, Barker noted that Shelley dug right in and spent the next six years in weekly meetings with builders, contractors and architects.

“There was a lot of looking at plans, finding faults, designing them in a way so that we could maintain the same number of personnel with larger buildings, and determining what needed to be completed when,” Barker said. “She is probably one of the smartest ladies I know, period … and I believe our customers appreciate and respect her for what she has accomplished.”

In 2013, Shelley was recognized for her efforts by the Colorado Association of Libraries as Librarian of the Year.

Shelley said she intends to stay in her current position until early October, and will be starting her new job the middle of that month.

“The hardest thing about leaving is that I just love this job, and feel like I’ve had an amazing opportunity here,” Shelley said. “I also want to thank all of the town and city staff, and many elected officials that I have had the pleasure to work with, as well as numerous nonprofit partners …

“Garfield County will always hold a special place in my heart both for its beauty and its people,” she said.

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