A veteran of five years working in the Texas County Library system, Ellis Prairie resident Molly Shelton took over as the system's director in December.

With more than a month in the position now under her belt, new Texas County Library Director Molly Shelton is getting a feel for what the job entails.

Having spent about five years working in various capacities at the Houston branch (including several youth programs), Shelton witnessed many aspects of what goes on in the county’s library system. But she sees things now in a different light.

“I’m enjoying learning about the deeper ins and outs of how this all works,” Shelton said. “Not just doing what needs to be done as a staff member, but the behind the scenes stuff that keeps it all running.”

Shelton, who lives in the Ellis Prairie area with her husband Colt and two toddlers, is a graduate of Willow Springs High School and is pursuing an education degree through Missouri State University. She now oversees the operation of a library system featuring 10 paid employees and 11,470 card-carrying patrons, along with 69,103 books, 5,779 videos and numerous items of electronics, including public access stations for the public.

“For the size of our library, we really have a lot to offer,” Shelton said. “Since I’ve come on and been doing things with other libraries of similar size in this area, I’ve seen that we have a lot of things others don’t. For example, a lot of them don’t have the early literacy computers, or any public access computers at all.

“We’ve been able to get a lot of things other libraries haven’t.”

A career accountant, former Director Audrey Barnhart will continue working with the library’s accounting following her retirement. Shelton said that gives her a welcome chance to glean information from her predecessor.

“She did a lot – and made it look easy,” Shelton said. “It’s big shoes to fill; it’s important to me to still have her around.”

One of the first major items on the new Texas County Library director’s to-do list involves the planned expansion of the Cabool branch. Shelton is in the early stages of putting together an application for a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant that would fund the proposed project, to be formally submitted in June.

“Instead of having a whole new building as is the case at Summersville, we’re going to be doing an addition if we get this grant,” she said. Preliminary drawings are already complete.

Shelton said that as good as the county’s library system already is, she’ll focus on improvements whenever and wherever possible, and dialing in current procedures. She also hopes to further expand the library’s influence.

“I really want to focus on community outreach,” Shelton said. “The community has done a lot for us, like last year during the summer reading program when we had a huge outpouring of donation and then a huge turnout. We want to try to concentrate on more community programs, and then, of course, improving our facilities.”

To reach Shelton, call the Houston branch at 417-967-2258 or email mshelton@texascountylibrary.lib.mo.us.

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