Faces In the Crowd Shelley Scott

December 20, 2018

By Aaron Michell

For the last 23 years, Shelley Scott has been helping locals find books.
And information. And directions. And pretty much everything else locals have needed help finding.
As the Director of the Marion Public Library since 1998, Shelley has more or less served at – what some might call – the Marion Community Help Desk for the last two decades.
But Shelley is more than just a librarian. She’s Paul’s wife; Leslie, Jessa, and Betsy’s mom; and she’s grandma to her five beautiful grandchildren.
Originally from Cadillac, Shelley moved to Marion after marrying her husband Paul in 1979. Together the couple raised their family from the Scott home across from the Marion Elementary School.
These days, when Shelley’s not helping people at the library, she’s probably spending time with her kids and grandkids. Or she may be busy painting, or working on crafts with her bandsaw in her basement workspace.
So while a lot has changed in the Marion area over the last 23 years, at least one thing has remained the same: If you need help finding a book, making a resume, or researching information, Shelley will be there to greet you, at the Marion Library, with a smile on her face.
We caught up with Shelley recently where we talked about the library, her family, and her hobbies outside of reading. We learned that not only is she a good librarian, but she’s not too bad with a bandsaw either. We learned that Shelley Scott is certainly more than just another face in the crowd.

Shelley Scott

Shelley Scott

Marion Press: When did you start here at the library?
Shelley: 1995 – I’ve been here 23 years!

MP: 1995 – that was really before the internet took off.
Shelley: Right. I was in on the whole changeover from the card catalog – back when we were manually checking books out with the cards, pulling them out and putting them in the proper date slots. I started as a library aide in ’95, and in 1998 I started as the director here.

MP: And are you originally from Marion?
Shelley: No, Cadillac is my hometown.

MP: What brought you to Marion?
Shelley: My husband! We met, and I started off going to college at Northwestern Michigan Community College in Traverse City, and was going into nursing. And I had met Paul and we decided to move down here, and start our life here.

MP: What is your Maiden name?
Shelley: Curtiss. My family was in the court reporting business – my dad was a statewide court reporter. He went from a stenographer to recording and typing it up. So Cadillac’s my home base. Lot of family in Traverse City too – they originally came from Traverse and almost turned around! Back then Cadillac just had factories all along the north end – it wasn’t anything to look at. Moving from Traverse City to Cadillac was a shock to them!

MP: What kept you busy as a kid? Did you like to read?
Shelley: Yeah, I did. I always remember my mom having a book in her hands; she was a reader. My grandma was a reader. And that inspired me, and I became a reader. And back then, kids could run all over the place! I think people are more cautious now. I lived on Cass Street – over where the theater is, up in the historic district – and I used to walk to the library. I used to go down there to the kids’ area, and loved being there; I did a lot of homework there. I can’t say that this was my chosen profession, but it’s a place that I’ve ended up, and am thankful for, and have enjoyed. Like I said, I was originally going to go into the medical field, but life changes. Always. It evolves.

MP: And when did you and Paul get married?
Shelley: 1979. He was already here – he had his own business, the body shop, and I moved down here with him. I’d help him out in the body shop, doing body work and all that. We’ll have been married 40 years next year.

MP: Tell us about your family.
Shelley: Leslie is down in Warsaw, Indiana now. She’s an ultrasound tech – she’s in charge of a department down there, doing arterials, and echo – which is your heart. She’s married, and she’s really successful; doing great down there. And Jessa and Steve are here in Marion. Jessa’s an RN up to Cadillac; doing really good there. And Steve’s doing great, and they have three kids: Ayden’s 13, Maddy’s 8, and Jace is 4, going on 5.
And Betsy, she’s a physician’s assistant up to Cadillac, so they live up to Cadillac. She’s at Mackinaw Trail Pediatrics. Her and Justin have two little boys. Our family’s went from all girls, to the boys having taken over!

MP: Well that’s fun! Do you get to do the babysitting thing once in a while?
Shelley: I do. Jessa and Steve’s kids, I get them two to three mornings a week. I get up before six, and get ready. She drops them off on her way to work, and I get them around for breakfast, and get them out the door. Not much has changed since I was raising my kids! You always think you’ll slow down, but you don’t.

Shelley and Paul Scott.

Shelley and Paul Scott.

MP: What did the Scott family enjoy doing when your kids were growing up?
Shelley: A lot of swimming. We had a swimming pool, and we’d try to make our house a hub. We really enjoyed having their friends over; I truly miss all the activity. I say I’m still an empty nest right now, because I’ve never gotten used to the quiet at home. Loved having them and their friends over for laughter and good times. Now we just kind of do the family thing.

MP: What are some of the things that the library has to offer, that maybe people don’t know about?
Shelley: Well, we have downloadable magazines; audiobooks. We have the microfilm, if they’re doing research – we have the Marion Press on microfilm dating back to 1903. We have the genealogical materials for the area. We have six computers – we have a lot of people working on the computers. We have a summer reading program that we do every year here – we’ve really been doing a lot of programs here at the library.

MP: Can you give us a rundown of some of the programs that the library puts on?
Shelley: We’ve been trying to do one a month. Quite often, we have storytellers come in. We just had the reindeer here – the kids loved that. It was super. We had lots of snacks, cookies, hot chocolate; the kids were lined up out the door – the kids loved the reindeer. And Santa was really popular this year. Last year we did an Easter Egg hunt, we’ll do that again this year. We’re trying to do more activities to try to draw more people in.
A neat thing is that we have a lot of people come in who need help online. I’ve helped type letters for people for organizations, or helped them get started with their resumes, or access information for printing, and how to get things accomplished. We kind of do it all.

MP: What are some of the changes you’ve seen at the library since the ‘90s?
Shelley: Libraries are always evolving, and we’re trying to keep up. The role has changed so much with technology – it’s not just books. When I started here, we had the old card catalog, and I’d take the cards out and stamp them and put them in the file. When I became director, it was right around the time we started to look at computers. I think we had two back then, to start. And then changing all of our system over onto the computers – our card catalog is completely online. We have Kindles available for check out. We’re working on a movie collection now, because there’s really nowhere to go for movies in Marion – so we’re taking donations for that.
One really nice thing – like with the reindeer program – is that we’ve gotten a lot of really nice community support. It’s nice that we have a community that is willing to step up and help out. Budgets for everybody – businesses, individuals – can be really tight, and we deal with the same issues here.

MP: Personally, what are your favorite books to read?
Shelley: I like a little bit of everything. I try not to get too tied down onto one subject or genre. I’m like that with music too – I like listening to everything! But I like a lot of fantasy fiction; just kind of an escape from reality for a little bit. I like some non-fiction, life stories. Pretty much anything. I love kids’ books; easy books. I love the illustrations and love reading them to kids. I’m serious, I have a collection of them! I see books that are illustrated and beautiful books, fun to read, and I buy them.

MP: And you have the grandkids to read them to.
Shelley: I do. I have one who’s a super reader too – Maddy, Jessa’s daughter. She loves reading. She comes and grabs books: ‘Can I read to you?’ Yes, you can.

MP: Outside of the library, what kind of interests or activities keep you busy?
Shelley: Well, I do some woodworking.

MP: Woodworking?
Shelley: Not building furniture – which I do want to do, and I’m working my way there – but I have a bandsaw and I like to cut out decorations. I’ve cut out a lot of things for the kids and grandkids over the years. And I like to paint. Not oils, or big huge canvasses, but I do a lot of painting.

MP: So you’re kind of an artist? The artsy type.
Shelley: A little bit. I can follow directions! That’s kind of my thing when I have time; I’m kind of limited time-wise, but I have fun when I get into them.
I’m currently working on my workshop down in the basement – I got a BladeRunner from my husband for Christmas. And I got my own socket set for my anniversary!

MP: Who would’ve thought? The librarian and her woodworking, and her tools… just going to work in the basement.
Shelley: Yeah, [Paul’s] disorganized, darn it! I mean, I’m not super organized, but he has all his tools out in the garage, and I’ll go out to find something of mine – if he’s used it, I can’t find it. So I’m always squawking about that, so he ended up getting me my own tools: ‘Here, you keep them right down in your own space so you know where they’re at.’ I did learn that you never, ever mess with your husband’s tools out in the garage – that’s not good.

MP: What is your favorite part of the job? Your favorite part of being the Marion Librarian?
Shelley: First of all, the people. It’s really fun getting to know the people – there are so many different people who come in here from different walks of life. That’s fun. And when you place a book order, and you get that box of books, opening it up is just like Christmas.
Really it’s about the community. It’s about the people. The kids are great to work with; they’re fun. The summer reading program is fun – the story hour gets quite a few kids in. I really learn a lot with this job: researching, and helping others research and find things out. I’m always learning something new here.

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