Local heroes: Librarian Shelly Miller
Shelly Miller is the Youth Services Librarian at the Ascension Parish Library. This means that she not only oversees youth programs at the Gonzales library, but all four locations throughout the parish.
After working at the library in Donaldsonville for four years, she realized that what truly made her happy was helping and participating in the kids programs.
"I have always had a real affinity for youth programming," Miller said.
So for the last eight years she has helped set the community up for success through services offered to kids ranging from infants to teenagers.
Miller says she enjoys being a part of the progression kids go through when participating in programs like their Primetime Series. Families from the community visited the library every week for six weeks for dinner and a guided reading discussion.
She said that seeing the children progress through their understanding and willingness to talk about the reading was one of her favorite things to happen in her job so far.
"To see that change over such a short period was really exciting," Miller said.
She also said that having her two sons has helped her gain perspective on what is developmentally appropriate, as well as what kids will have fun doing. "Having them helps me realize what's really popular, or what they're interested in or their friends are interested in," she said.
Before, Miller relied on her nieces and nephews to help with this perspective. Coming from a large blended family, she saw the love they could provide. This was pivotal when Miller, along with her spouse Alex made the decision to open their home to foster children.
"It was sort of inspiring to see there wasn't any difference. So I knew any kids we brought in would feel the same love and acceptance," Miller said. "We wanted a family, but there are so many kids who need homes."
Now with her two boys, Miller spends a lot of her time off with them at parks and trying to keep up with their energy level. With their photos covering her desk, it is easy to see that Miller's love for her sons impacts the effort and care she puts into the youth programs.
And while she is about to begin planning for next summer's events, Miller said they still have a lot of great programs running at the library. One of those programs is 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten where the goal is simple: read 1,000 books to your child before they start school to help set them up for success. The library offers prizes for different milestones met.