Ellen Scott is the woman moving like a whisper behind the bookshelves in the children’s section.
Name a title or a type of book and she can go straight to it. if it’s not in stock, she will happily order it.
Service is just one dimension of this busy department manager at the Bookworm.
Scott’s bookstore job also takes her outside the corner shop in Countryside Village. she sets up and coordinates outreach programs that involve parents, teachers, writers and librarians. one that just ended, Paths to Publication, was a five-month-long series on how to get adult and children’s books published. Scott said the program was popular and it may be repeated in some format.
“There’s so much competition (in children’s literature publishing), and not everything is going to be top of the heap,” she said.
When a book becomes a phenomenon, writers and publishers pile on, leaving a gap to be filled by the next innovative author.
“So when somebody finds a new book idea, I really like it.”
Her case in point is Sherman Alexie’s “Absolutely True Diary of a part Time Indian,” which is “sort of fantastic and sort of autobiographical.”
It would be the perfect book for the young-adult literature group Scott founded a decade ago. Meeting once a month, it goes by the acronym AARDBAARK, or Amiable Adult Readers Discussing Books Almost Always Read by Kids.
Another work-related passion is the Omaha Local Independent Business Alliance, which she founded to raise the profile of member businesses and educate the public about the importance of shopping locally.
Scott was one of 13 independent booksellers in Omaha in the years before the arrival of national bookstore chains.
She worked with her mother in their children’s bookstore, the Bookhouse, until it closed in 1996. then she was forced to fall back on her skills.
A graduate of Westside High School, she received a bachelor’s degree in English and education from the University of Wyoming in Laramie. she taught at the high school level in Riverton, Wyo., before moving back to Omaha to work in advertising and public relations.
But in 1977, she spent a “life-changing” fall and winter term studying literature at Oxford University in England. she returned to Omaha in June 1978 and accepted a position at Benson High School teaching English and journalism. in November of that year, she and Stuart Scott were married.
She worked both on a master’s degree in English at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and in the Bookhouse.
After closing the bookstore, Scott took a job teaching third- and fourth-graders how to read at Phoenix Academy.
“that was so interesting. I learned how to teach someone how to read. I want to teach (that) when I retire.”
At almost 64, Scott isn’t retiring yet. she has books to order, books to recommend and books to find among the shelves in the Bookworm.
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