Former City Librarian Shirley Amore dies at 68

Denver Public Library staff are saddened to announce that former Denver City Librarian Shirley Amore passed away unexpectedly on March 1; she was 68.

Shirley was hired as the ninth city librarian in 2006 and was the first female in the position in the library’s 117-year history. She came to us from Sarasota, Florida, where she served as executive director of the city’s Community Services division. Her responsibilities there included administration of four county departments: Parks and Recreation, Sarasota History Center, University of Florida Extension Service and Sarasota Libraries.

She previously held management positions with the Broward County (Florida) Library and Fairfield (Connecticut) Public Library. She received her Master of Library Science Degree from Southern Connecticut State University and her BA in English Literature from Lake Superior State College in Michigan.

Shirley made a big impact on the library and on Denver in her eight years as city librarian:

  • In 2007, with the help of Denver voters and support from City Council, the library renovated 13 branches, performed major upgrades to all branches, and built three new branch libraries, increasing access for Denver residents.
  • Two new bookmobiles were purchased and the library expanded services to 23 Denver Public Schools and 22 senior centers.
  • The library survived the great recession and came out stronger, including increasing hours from 32 to 48 hours per week at all branches and 52 hours per week at five branches.
  • The library strengthened its relationship with the Friends Foundation, helping it grow into a strong organization focused on raising money and support for the library.
  • Shirley led the organization through expanded mission and vision work by studying the community and developing strategies to make a positive difference in the lives of Denver residents.
  • Summer of Reading, Storytimes, early learning programs and out-of-school learning programs were put in place.
  • BizBoost was created to help businesses and organizations with business and organizational development.
  • The Community Technology Center was created, along with the ideaLAB, to give residents free, unparalleled access to technology resources.

Shirley was proud of her community work. In 2014, she was awarded the ADA Access Award by the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition for her advocacy relating to the promotion of universal access to the library. In 2015, she was honored by the Girl Scouts of Colorado as a 2015 Woman of Distinction in Denver and in honor of her retirement, Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock proclaimed Jan. 27, 2015 as Shirley Amore Day.

Even after her retirement in 2015, Shirley continued to help the library by working on the Career Online High School program, building community support and partnering with City agencies to identify candidates for the online high school and career preparation program.

Shirley reminded us every day of the great impact we make on people’s lives. Anyone who worked for her will remember her signature slogan, “Together, we make an extraordinary difference.” That feels like an understatement when you look back at all she was able to accomplish in Denver and beyond.

Most importantly, Shirley was a great friend. She valued and cared for colleagues and customers alike and always made everyone she met feel at home and welcome in our buildings. Shirley will be deeply missed.

Shirley is survived by her husband John Amore, children James Halligan, Chris Amore, Aric Amore, Tad Amore and her daughters-in-law, Ginger Pelz, Beth Amore and Rachel Amore; brother Hugh Craig and sister, the late Sheila Craig, as well as six grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in her name to Career Online High School via the Denver Public Library Friends Foundation. In the comments field please include “Career Online High School.”

Written by ChrisH on March 5, 2018


<span>Jen Morris</span> on March 6, 2018


I was so sad to hear about this. Shirley was an amazing women, leader, friend, mother, and grandmother who I had the honor to work with for 3 years. Sending big hugs to her family and my DPL family.

<span>Anna Winkel Sz…</span> on March 6, 2018


Saddened to learn of Shirley's passing. She was an effective leader and a geuine, compassionate person. Too soon.

<span>Simone Groene-Nieto</span> on March 6, 2018


Rest In Peace Shirley. She was a steady and subtle leader, friendly and even kind of sweet, in a way. I’m so grateful for all she did for DPL! ?

<span>Zac L. </span> on March 7, 2018


Today will be a day of reflection as I think of Ms. Amore and the impact she had. Her steady compassion and thoughtfulness were permanently present - she made time to listen and she made time to respond. She encouraged people at all levels within DPL to work together and really created an enduring collaborative culture. She believed in people, and in kind we believed in her. May her kindness and openness forever be present in Denver's Libraries.

<span>Laura Christensen</span> on March 8, 2018


I met Shirley several times and was impressed by her calm, steady and very capable leadership. DPL has lost a great friend. My condolences to her family.

<span>Mr. Sha Bazz</span> on March 8, 2018


A well said tribute to the contributions that outlast the contributions.

<span>Kay Pride</span> on March 12, 2018


I remember standing on the corner of Lincoln and Colfax at 7 a.m. waving signs in support of the 2007 DPL bond issue. Shirley stood next to me. I asked her why it was important to her to be out on a cold, windy morning. She said "I hope my staff will volunteer for what I'm willing to do myself." That's true leadership. She was a friend to all who care about libraries.