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A legacy to crow about

Posted December 17, 2018

From Captain Book to Mrs. Claus, Helen Fellers had a festive costume — and a stack of recommended reading — for nearly every occasion. Like the children’s books she shared through her "Reading Rooster Recommends” videos, Fellers’ legacy was “something to crow about.” The longtime literacy advocate passed away on Saturday, Dec. 15.

Fellers’ mission in life was to encourage children to read, and she spent more than 50 years of her career doing so. A lifelong librarian, she drove a bookmobile and managed a branch library for the Richland Library system. She was also a library director for both the Central Carolina Technical College in Sumter and the Technical College of the Lowcountry in Beaufort.

In 2001, Fellers came to work at the South Carolina Center for Children’s Books and Literacy at the University of South Carolina’s School of Library and Information Science. Here, she managed the collection, led story times for neighborhood preschools and taught a children’s literature class. And, whenever she had the chance, she donned a variety of hats, masks and scarves for her “Reading Rooster” video series.

“What I love about this profession is how empowering it is,” Fellers said in a 2013 interview for the university’s website. “You put a book in the hands of a child and you’ve opened a whole new world for them. Children can have a lot of problems  shyness, moving, time in the hospital, divorce. Books can help them deal with all of that.”

In 2013, Fellers was honored with a Literacy Leaders Award from SLIS. She also received Richland Library’s 2016 Lucy Hampton Bostick Award, which recognizes local figures who have advanced the interest in books or libraries.

She retired from the university in 2016.

“Helen was a pioneer in promoting literacy,” said Christine Shelek, SCCCBL’s executive director. “She did it all – from driving a bookmobile to teaching children’s literature to bringing local children’s groups to the center for story time. She lived life to the fullest and on her terms. We all learned a lot from Helen and for that we will be forever grateful.”

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