Selbyville library director brings host of skills to position

Tanya Shelton-Council has been the director of the Selbyville Public Library for just under a year, but she has big plans for the future — and, mainly, that consists of better serving her customers.

Coastal Point • Monica Fleming: Tanya Shelton-Council (3rd from left) with her staff, Donna Horvath, Terra Hudson and Lori Ingram.Coastal Point • Monica Fleming
Tanya Shelton-Council (3rd from left) with her staff, Donna Horvath, Terra Hudson and Lori Ingram.

To do that, she hopes to start an annual fundraising drive to solicit funds from individuals, as well as businesses, to underwrite the costs of anything from new shelves to new space, in order to be more patron-friendly.

“We are very dependent on state and county funding, and with the way the economy has been going, that will affect us. It would be nice to have a local base of support,” said Shelton-Council.

“We would also like to be able to properly store the Townsend family’s mementos and pictures,” she continued. “We had a preservationist come in to study the building and our current collection and how best to preserve it while making it available to the people. We’d like to raise money to get the second floor renovated so we can have that as a dedicated place for the collection.”

In addition to the renovation, Shelton-Council said she would like to set up a general operating fund for donations, with the idea that people will continue to stay involved in the library.

“Once people give money, they are invested and they get excited about it. They want to come in and see where their money is going,” she said.

Shelton-Council’s educational background is in art history and she holds a master’s degree in non-profit management. She worked in fundraising for the Delaware Community Foundation and the Delaware Museum of Natural History and after that decided she wanted to get out of fundraising and get back to her earlier roots.

“My major was art history, and I always thought I would be a curator of a museum. And then at one point, I decided it would be interesting to be an archivist, so I thought I should try to get a position in a library.”

She started in libraries as a branch manager for the Cecil County Public Library in northeast Maryland.

“I was working in Cecil County, Md., and I’m thought, ‘I’m good. I made it. I got my master’s.’ But if you don’t have your master’s of library science in Maryland, you go to Library Associate Training Institute, where you can learn the ins and out of how to be a librarian.”
Coastal Point • Monica Fleming: The Selbyville Public Library.Coastal Point • Monica Fleming
The Selbyville Public Library.

It was there that Shelton-Council learned of a Delaware incentive program where for every two years she might work in a Delaware public library, she would get a year of funding for her MLS. Luckily, the job as library director in Selbyville opened up and she started in her new position last March. She has decided to get her MLS and is currently enrolled at the University of Wisconsin, where she can take most of her classes online.

Shelton-Council’s plans for the library’s future involve increasing the number of programs for adults and having more available for the Spanish-speaking community. She would also like to expand the teen section, which is now in a small room in the Youth Services Wing — an addition that was added in 2004.

“People ages 18 to 30 are one of the library’s biggest groups, so we want to engage the young people that are right below that age so that they continue to come,” she said. “So that means more computers, gaming opportunities, more books and an adequate place for them to hang out.”

The will be having its annual book sale this year from June 20 through June 27 to coincide with the town’s Old Timer’s Day/Selbyville Summerfest, which falls on June 21.

“We used to have a month-long sale that started the day after Thanksgiving. But we decided to do more holiday programming this past year, which was very well-received and well-attended, so we moved the book sale date.”

As it turned out, although Shelton-Council’s plan was to get out of fundraising, her position as director of the Selbyville Public Library uses that and all of her other skills combined.

With her background in art history, she has the appreciation and the drive to preserve precious mementos of the Townsend family, with her master’s in non-profit management, she has the experience to catapult Selbyville’s fundraising efforts, and when she finishes her master’s of library science, Shelton-Council will have come full circle. She will be able to think like a librarian while running her library as a museum — full of local history and present-day supporters and friends.

“When people think of a librarian, they think you have to be somebody with a love of books and love of reading. But that’s not it at all,” she explained. “You have to have good customer-service skills. You have to be passionate about that people you serve.”