Librarian's impact on children, community is unparalleled

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Ellen Credle, known for her multisensory activities with children during story times, helps the kids with bunny ears after an Easter-themed story time in 2011.“Where is Miss Ellen?” has been a daily question at West Linn Public Library for the last several months, as patrons realize it’s been awhile since they’ve seen Ellen Credle in the kids’ department.

For those who knew that Ellen quietly retired at the first of the year, following a year of being treated for pancreatic cancer, the question has more frequently been, “How is Miss Ellen?”

As Ellen begins hospice care, we honor the 13-plus years she served at the library, primarily as head of the youth services department and later as manager of public services. It was in her role as children’s librarian that the West Linn community came to know Ellen and consider her a special member of their extended families.

Ellen was in the last graduating class of the University of Oregon’s Master of Library Science program, during the era when library catalogs were hand-printed on small cards and kept in those long wooden drawers. She worked at the Springfield Library and Fort Vancouver Regional Library before coming to West Linn in the spring of 1999.

She was a pioneer in the practice of multisensory story times for children. A 30- to 40-minute story time with Miss Ellen always included music, sign language, picture books, finger plays, activities and crafts.

Connie Olson recalled, “When our family first went to Miss Ellen’s story times, she always began with everyone singing and signing ‘The More We Get Together.’ How perfect! Ellen brought families together with her creative story times and summertime programs. She brought the community together by building a vibrant children’s program. And, of course, she brought everyone together through the magic experience of learning through literature.”

Connie’s daughter, Caitlyn, said, “Ellen has always modeled the gift of making everyone feel special. In her interactions with people she showed just how to find the good in everyone around her. For me, her including me in a two-person performance of ‘Donkey Eggs’ at story times and the Sunset Halloween party made me feel included in my community and more importantly helped me to develop a relationship with her.”

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Library staff members Sarah McIntyre, Joanna Campa and Ellen Credle enjoyed participating in the citys safety picnic last year.

Ellen presented approximately 2,500 story times for infants, toddlers and preschoolers during her years here. If you saw small children with rabbit ears or spider hats at Central Village, you knew those children had just come from story time at the library.

“I was just thinking that it was always wonderful for our children that she remembered their names,” said Kandace Kling, whose son, Logan, donated all of the money he earned to the library two summers in a row, $100 between fourth and fifth grade and $200 the following summer.

Ellen was committed to excellent patron service in all facets of librarianship. Because of her advocacy West Linn Public Library was a leader in cataloging and shelving items to meet the needs of children. No one participating in one of her summer reading programs would guess that the programs were designed to prevent the regression of reading skills during the summer months. Any patron fortunate enough to have Miss Ellen assisting with a search for material on a given subject could be confident that their needs would be met.

Library co-worker Julie Blake remembered, “One of Ellen’s best qualities was that she was always willing to give assistance to patrons and fellow staff members. I can’t ever recall her turning down a request for help. With patrons, I think she always gave an extra effort and truly enjoyed giving that effort in order to satisfy a request from her youngest library users.”

Ellen showed that same dedication to the school community and always replied with an enthusiastic, “Yes!” to any request for a class visit.

Fellow staffer Patty Voigt remembers Ellen’s genuine warmth. “I also really enjoyed the skits she and Becky did for summer reading. Those were hilarious! I wish we had taped a few of them.”

Ellen’s visions for the library’s entries in West Linn Old Time Fair parades were legendary. And the best costumes always required glitter!

She mentored library school students and passed her absolute commitment to patron service on to the next generation of librarians.

The Pylate family reflected, “The legacy she has left has made a huge difference in the lives of hundreds of kids in their love for books. Her personal love and attention has been such a blessing to us and to so many others!”

Ellen’s own children, who grew up during her years here, are now young adults and her grandson, Holden, is her delightful reminder of all of those West Linn children and families who represented her extended family through the years.

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