The Wasatch County Library claims fame to the one and only Miss Sally, the children’s librarian and program director with an enormous passion and love for literacy and children. And when those things come to together, something extraordinary happens.
“Literature is magical,” says Sally Baird. She moved to Heber in 2005 and her first visit to the library just happened to be the building’s one-year anniversary. She inquired about story time and was told it was done by moms who volunteered once a week. Kristen Bowcutt, the library director, asked Sally if she would like to take charge. Sally quickly stepped up to the plate and hit a home run with story time exploding in just two months.
After a year, Sally told Kristen that she needed to quit in order to open her own preschool, and Kristen immediately offered to pay her to keep her with the library. Sally is now with the library full time and has taken her talents to a new level. “Sally has been sharing her many talents, energy and enthusiasm at the library for 13 years through story times for preschoolers and toddlers,” gushes Kristen. “She visits the schools as a Mystery Reader, performs special story telling events, hosts Homeschool Book Club and organizes a monthly movie night.”
What started with 10 children on three platform steps has grown to serve over 300 kids in six weekly sessions. “Everyone from small children to the staff love Miss Sally,” says Kristen. “Her love for children and books, along with her dedication to literacy have taken the library to a whole new level of services and programming.”
“She is certainly in demand around the valley and has a knack for knowing what the community needs and enjoys,” continues Kristen. And with Sally’s popularity growing right along with the county, the library is excited for its newly built expansion. “I am sure that we have the best story telling experience for your child that you will find in the state,” Kristen proclaims.
Making The Most Of Story Time
Sally’s story times include a story, activity and a craft relating to colors or letters. Some of Sally’s tricks of the trade include pantomime, puppets and props, and she even dresses up in costumes! Chelsea Cheatwood, a library patron mom, illustrates, “Sally has a pink box like Mary Poppins’ carpet bag and has Barney the Dinosaur running through her veins.”
Sally has two closets full of fun costumes and several shelves of hats and wigs. When asked her favorite, she replies, “Yikes, that’s like asking me which of my kids is my favorite! I love them all.” She loves pretend and all that comes with it. Still, her favorite part of the job is the kids. “They’re magical, they love you no matter what and they believe,” she explains.
“What a blessing to have Miss Sally at Wasatch County Library,” says Kristen Bowcutt.
Sally loves to do “Mystery Reader” at the schools. Her philosophy that learning should be fun is what makes these appearances so special. She does cross-curriculum with literacy and science or math. She believes kids have a natural love for learning – and hopes that those inclinations aren’t ever squelched.
A Fairy Tale Ending
What might be surprising is that Sally struggled with reading in elementary school. She doesn’t remember it being a big deal, but looking at old report cards she realizes she really wasn’t very good. Even today, she practices and preps for “work” by reading and telling the stories she’s going to use.
As a child, the first book that really came alive for her was “Ramona The Pest” by Beverly Cleary. Ramona is a mischievous little girl and the idea of getting into trouble was somewhat intriguing and liberating, since she’s the only daughter and second child in a large family.
Sally has come a long way since her Ramona days. “You know I was thinking about the reason why story time has been so successful — it really doesn’t have to do with me other than the consistency that I provided,” she explains. “It has more to do with the good mothers, fathers, and yes, grandmothers that live here in Heber.”
All avid readers understand that reading can be an escape; it enlarges the imagination and enhances mental freedom. For this reason, Sally gives credit to the adults in her story time kids’ lives. “They know the importance of reading and exposing young children to literature,” she says. “It is because of their dedication to their children’s learning that has made story time successful. Without them, I wouldn’t have been given a job that I love and am passionate about. I am so grateful for the wonderful families of Wasatch County.”
And with that, Miss Sally will live happily ever after in the Heber Valley.
Books and Babies
Tuesday 9:45 a.m.
Wednesday/Thursday 9:45 a.m.
Wednesday/Thursday 10:30 a.m. After-school Story Time
Wednesday 4:00 p.m.