Sherry Sampson, a Moffat County Libraries employee since 1993, has risen through the ranks the past 15 years to her current position, libraries director. The library board unanimously appointed her last month. She supervises 22 employees and manages three total branches - Craig, Maybell and Dinosaur.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Sherry Sampson, a Moffat County Libraries employee since 1993, has risen through the ranks the past 15 years to her current position, libraries director. The library board unanimously appointed her last month. She supervises 22 employees and manages three total branches - Craig, Maybell and Dinosaur.

New director an ardent supporter of strong local libraries

A career that began in 1993 at the entry level slowly has materialized in the past 15 years for Sherry Sampson, the recently appointed director of the Moffat County Libraries.

"I guess you could say I started at the bottom," said Sampson, who began her career at the library's Computer Learning Center at the Craig branch. "I don't know how else you could put it."

However, she has risen through the ranks, promotion by promotion. From the Learning Center, she became operations librarian, then branch manager and later, assistant library director.

Last month, she got her promotion to the top spot.

After a trial run, the library board unanimously appointed her director, and the replacement for longtime library director Donna Watkins, who retired in June 2008.

"I just saw," Sampson said modestly of her appointment, "the importance of what I could do."

Today, her responsibilities entail supervising 22 employees, three total branches - Craig, Maybell and Dinosaur - and guiding the library's gradual transition from the traditional modes of information delivery to more tech-friendly methods.

"Technology," Sampson said. "It really changes everything, from your patrons to how you check out a book. : There are more efficiencies, more possibilities to access information."

In 2008, circulation numbers highlighted the library's use in the community.

According to figures, the library's circulation - all three branches included - is 8,900 registered borrowers, 84,000 annual visits and 107,000 books, magazines, CDs or DVDs checked out.

Sampson, 41, a Craig resident and 1984 Moffat County High School graduate, said one of her main priorities as library director is to ensure that library visitors find the materials they need, in whichever form they need it.

"I want to make sure that whenever someone steps through that door, they leave with whatever information they were looking for," she said. "Quality service. That's our role. : That covers pretty much the whole reason why we're here."

Another priority for the first-year library director is to bolster public outreach.

The library is active in the community, sponsoring children's programs, reading programs and other activities, but Sampson said she'd like to expand on those programs, including one that would entail library staff making presentations to public groups every few months.

Another new program the library has implemented, the Winter Reading Program, already has been successful.

About 250 adults, teens and children are enrolled in the 2008-09 program, which attempts to encourage reading by offering minor incentives along the way.

The number of participants in the current Winter Reading Program is almost double the 2007-08 numbers.

"We will always build on each year as much as we can," Sampson said.

Library board members have been impressed with Sampson's work at the helm.

"I personally have to say she is one of the most dedicated, hardest working people I've ever encountered," board treasurer Jennifer Riley said. "Her commitment is extraordinary. I am so thrilled she agreed to be the director and accepted the position.

"I think she's the best person for the job."

Board chairman Alman Nicodemus said Sampson's trial run was enough to convince board members they had their next library director.

"I think it was fortunate for us she decided she wanted the job," Nicodemus said.

He added, "I think she hit the road running and is doing a real good job. : The library is in a real good position."

Sampson said she is pleased with her decision to accept the board's appointment last month and views her work at the library as possibly a long-term career move.

Libraries, she said, play a particularly vital role in small communities, and even more so in rural communities such as Craig, Maybell and Dinosaur, heightening the need for quality services.

"We're so isolated, it's (important) to have a library where you can access information," Sampson said. "That's why I feel a strong local library is a must."

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