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Susan Huffman says goodbye to Nelson Memorial Library

When Susan Huffman started working at Nelson Memorial Library, she knew children were struggling with reading. This inspired her to create multiple programs within the library to help.

After almost 10 years at the library, Huffman retired last week.

Before she was the library’s branch manager, Huffman was a second- and third-grade teacher in the Nelson County Public Schools system. From there, she became a librarian at Tye River Elementary.

“I can say I have almost done 40 years of service to Nelson County,” Huffman said.

Huffman said she enjoyed her time working in Nelson in different ways. She is proud of what she’s done in the county, such as helping bring the Dolly Parton Imagination Library to Nelson and getting the outreach vehicle.

“I’ve been here longer than Susan but she’s been a fireball after this community. She’s fought for Nelson County,” Karen Rodgers, librarian at Nelson Memorial, said.

Huffman started a reading summit her second year at the library to help with reading levels.

“When I first came here, I was concerned about the reading levels of children at school, even before the pandemic. I saw children struggle to read,” Huffman said.

She also started Nelson Reads, an annual September program in which Huffman chose 12 picture books of different genres, such as math, science or social studies. Then, both Tye River and Rockfish River elementary schools would get copies of those books for the librarians to read to the children. The children would then come up with their Nelson Reads book of the year.

“Watching her do what she did for this library, it’s amazing. The drive, the vision and the follow-through,” Peggy Kerl, another librarian at Nelson Memorial, said.

“I’m sad to go, but I’m happy I’m leaving the library in this condition,” Huffman said.

Huffman’s favorite part of being the branch manager for the library was working with the staff. She said they were a team and always willing to give her ideas a try, even if they didn’t work out.

“We all work so well together, and I feel sad that I’m the first one to pull out of the team, but it’s time,” Huffman said.

Her team described her as innovative and creative.

Huffman also said that the ideas they all tried out together turned into something positive, even if they were not the original vision.

“She’s just been a wonderful manager. She wouldn’t ask you to do anything she wouldn’t do herself,” Kerl said.

Yulita Ellis, a librarian at Nelson Memorial who worked with Huffman for 23 years, said they also worked together in the school system before coming to the library.

Ellis got emotional when talking about Huffman’s retirement.

“She’s more than just my branch manager, and I have the utmost respect for her. She can be your biggest supporter. She’s a role model for being kind to people,” Ellis said.

Ellis said Huffman is always full of knowledge and knows the best ways to interact with people. She said she’s tried to absorb as much as she can during her time with Huffman.

One of the things Huffman said she’d never forget are the people they’ve lost. She said they lost patrons that they didn’t realize how close they had been to before they died.

“We had one patron, who called me and told me, ‘Susan, I have cancer and it’s bad.’ She wanted to see the renovated library though, and I told her I’ll make sure she does. So, at the beginning of that September, she was finally able to see it and she came in a wheelchair. She died the next week,” Huffman said.

Huffman has had a lasting impact on Nelson Memorial through the programs she’s created and through librarians and patrons, many who say she will be missed.


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