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Pauline Shelk honored for her Crook County Library purchases

County officials, others praise her years of dedication to the library
For her devotion to the Crook County Library during the last several decades, Pauline Caine Shelk was honored last week in ceremonies at the library.
   "I felt very honored that they would select me for this award," said Shelk. She was humble about the plaque, saying that this award is really for all of those who make the library a reality for Prineville and Crook County.
   Shelk was ill and was absent from the ceremonies, which were held on April 3, but spoke by phone.
   "I also want to emphasize that I truly regretted not being there on Thursday and appreciate all the planning that was done," Shelk said. "I felt very badly that I had to miss it."
   In all, about 30 people turned out to honor Shelk.
   "Nothing happens by accident in a small community," said Crook County Judge Scott Cooper. "It happens because of people like Pauline."
   Library Public Relations Director Margo Ashcraft agreed with Cooper's assessment.
   "Mrs. Shelk has quietly supported this library's programs and collections through her generosity for many years, never asking for anything in return," Ashcraft said. "And though she would never seek it, we wanted to thank her in some tangible way."
   After the ceremony, Shelk recalled when she was about 12 or 13, growing up on a farm in Independence, Ore., and her love of books.
   "I'd read late at night and the reflection from the light in my room shone on the lawn, and my mother would call me and tell me to stop reading," Shelk said, laughing with Library Director Dave Patterson and Ashcraft. "Well, when I discovered when the light shone on that, I put a blanket over the window, which prompted my mother to come up to see why the light wasn't shining. I was thereby instructed to not put the blanket on the window from that evening on. So then I acquired a flashlight and put my book under the covers and read."
   Shelk, who moved to Prineville in 1956 and who moved to Touchmark at Mt. Bachelor Village in Bend in December 2007, has been one of many long-time Crook County Library supporters.
   "I did support it when they were in the smaller building," she said. "I've been supporting it yearly. We started the (Shelk) Family Foundation in 1968 and I know that the library would have been one of the beneficiaries included in my budget every year."
   "My interest has always been children's books and large print books for people who have difficulty seeing," she said. When the new library was built, a low-vision print enlarger machine was funded from the Shelk Family Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation for those who have difficulty reading small print. And she has been a strong supporter of the Bookmobile.
   "That hasn't changed," Shelk emphasized. "Those are still the areas I am interested in. And now I give gifts each year in honor of my son John and his wife's birthdays."
   "I have loved books all my life," she said. "I was my school librarian the last two years at my high school."
   She graduated 75 years ago from the Sacred Heart Academy in Salem, Ore.
   "I do not have a college degree, but I believe that books and newspapers have considerably added to my education," she said. "And I like to share my love of books with others. This is one of the reasons I support the library in the way I do."
   "Books educate," she said. "Books entertain. And one is never lonely if there is a book to read and enjoy. Sharing books with others makes for shared interests and interesting conversations. One can learn about our history, our culture and our everyday life. They make excellent companions. When one loves to read, one loves to share their pleasures with others."
   "The book mobile is a blessing to people who otherwise could not take advantage of what the library offers," she said. "Crook County and the city of Prineville are truly fortunate in having such an ... asset for their use and pleasure. The Friends and the library, in no small measure, have made this possible - your contributions are much appreciated."
   She was also honored with a certificate of appreciation by Jim Carpenter, who is the president of the library board of trustees. This plaque is the latest in a series of plaques honoring those who have made significant contributions to the library.