The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — The Pioneer Library System announced two new branch managers this week, Ashley Miller at Moore Public Library and Becky Pauls at Blanchard Public Library.
Miller, a fixture for several years in the Moore Public Library’s Children’s Department, began her new duties April 16.
“I absolutely love working at the Moore Public Library and am excited for my new role as branch manager,” Miller said. “I am passionate about library services and the connection between our library and the community. I look forward to my continued time at Pioneer and the exciting times for Moore to come.”
Miller came to Oklahoma via California, a small suburb outside San Diego called Poway. She is a graduate of the University of California San Diego with a major in anthropology and a minor in sociology.
“In college, I took a sociology of education course which looked at our education system and the different experiences children have based on their location and socioeconomics,” she said. “I was really inspired by this course and decided I wanted to enter the education field.”
Miller went on to work as After-School Program coordinator for the Poway Unified School District and found her true passion to be working for libraries. That led her to come to her mother’s home state of Oklahoma in 2008 to continue her education in that direction.
She lived and worked first in Stillwater and later came to the Pioneer Library System as a shelver at the Moore Public Library while taking classes in the University of Oklahoma’s School of Library and Information Services.
She since has worked as a public services assistant in the Children’s Services Department and took over as children’s services manager at the library in 2011 when Sheila Crosby was promoted from that position to be the branch manager.
Crosby served as branch manager until February when her family had its own opportunity in southern California.
“I was fortunate to have the mentorship of my manager, Sheila Crosby, and OU professor, the late Dr. Connie VanFleet, both of whom always advocated for public libraries to provide outstanding service to everyone who walked through the doors,” Miller said.
While she was born and raised in Nebraska, Pauls is becoming more Oklahoman every day. She’s a new face for library patrons in McClain County.
In her first month on the job, Pauls has already had many opportunities to get to know the community, both inside and outside of the library.
“There are wonderful people here, the staff is always inviting people to ‘come meet the new branch manager,’” she said. “They really know their community so well.”
Pauls is a graduate of the University of Nebraska Kearney for undergraduate work and earned a Master of Library Science from Emporia State University. With her husband’s job bringing about frequent transfers, she has worked at various spots throughout the Midwest, including as a teacher and school librarian in Marietta and Sulphur in Oklahoma, in Wichita, Kan., and most recently with the Livingston Parish Public Schools in Louisiana.
During a stint in Park City, Kan., outside of Wichita, she added to the scope of her job as a school library media specialist. The town didn’t have its own library but the school did, and she saw a chance to fill a need for the community.
“So we ran a Summer Reading Program for five or six years,” she said. “Kids would come in the morning and we’d do summer program activities and then they’d go down to the cafeteria for a lunch program they had.”
Pauls takes over in Blanchard for Jane Kimbrough, who retired in January as the longest-tenured employee with the Pioneer Library System, spending more than 40 years with the Blanchard Public Library. She began work in Blanchard on April 1, after longtime library assistant Kay Lowry had served for three months as interim branch manager.
Pauls’ husband is a native of Fairview, and her grown children, both in their early 20s, each live in Oklahoma City, so being back in the area is a great chance to be closer to them and become a little more Oklahoman.
“I’ve found that as you move south, the people just getting friendlier,” she said.