Longtime library director Shirley Flack remembered as an advocate

Shirley Flack (left) and Sue Schemm box up book for the Friends of the Scottsbluff Public Library book sale. Flack, a long-time director of the library, died Wednesday at 85.

SCOTTSBLUFF — A longtime director of the Scottsbluff Public Library died Wednesday at the age of 85.

Shirley Flack was the library director for 31 years at her retirement in 2000. Beginning as a library page in 1951, she became children’s librarian from 1953-54. After taking a few years off to be with her small children, she returned in 1960 and was appointed library director in 1969.

“She was a great lady, very prominent in the library world,” former co-worker and longtime friend Karon Harvey said. “She was my mentor and my best friend since 1968. She was a tremendous advocate for women. She will be missed by everyone.”

Flack served as president of the Nebraska Library Association and the Mountain Plains Library Association. She was presented the Meritorious Service Award from the NLA, the Excalibur Award from the Public Library Section of NLA and was named Woman of the Year by the Panhandle Business and Professional Women’s Organization. The Scotts Bluff County Democratic Party, Soroptimists and the Friends of the Scottsbluff Public Library are among the many activities and organizations that kept her busy after retirement.

“Every organization she was in, she was always a hard worker,” Children’s Librarian/Public Services supervisor Deb Carlson said. “She always wanted to get things organized. She was professional to a T.”

She retired on her birthday, Jan. 15, 2000, telling the city manager that retirement was the gift she was giving herself for her birthday and the new millennium.

“She was a really smart, able person who worked hard to make a difference for libraries and those they served both locally and across the state,” Judy Oltmanns, technical services librarian, said. “I was amazed at what she was able to accomplish both locally and state-wide.”

Roberta Boyd, who worked for Flack both at the library and doing house cleaning, said she always remembered what Flack said when she interviewed for a position at the library.

“Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t get to sit around and read library books all day,” Flack told Boyd.

Carlson said Flack was always one to stand up for what she believed in.

“She never missed an opportunity to speak up on something,” she said. “She was a force to be reckoned with. And always for the right reasons. ... She was absolutely brilliant, one of the most intelligent people I ever met.”

Funeral services will be Friday, Aug. 16, at 11 a.m. at Harvest Valley Church in Scottsbluff.

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Mark McCarthy is a reporter with the Star-Herald. He can be reached at 308-632-9049 or via email at mark.mccarthy@starherald.com.

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