AlliedNews.com - Grove City, Pennsylvania

Local News

May 28, 2014

New library director is familiar face

GC native starts new chapter

GROVE CITY — Apryl Flynn Gilliss’ career path has taken her from Grove City to Maryland and even to a tropical paradise.

But she returned this month to work in her hometown after nearly 20 years to be the director of the Grove City Community Library.

“I’d been gone a long time!” said Gilliss, 42, of Lake Latonka. “It’s exciting that Grove City has so many cool projects going on and new businesses opening. The parking sculpture project is particularly impressive and raises our visibility.”

“I’ve seen my fourth grade teacher and many of my high school classmates and friends’ parents,” since starting the job May 1, said the Grove City native. “I’m hoping to see more friends visit the library... I don’t remember everyone’s name and/or face, though, so it helps if people re-introduce themselves to me.”

Gilliss worked at the Allied News from 1994 to 1995, her first year after graduating from the University of Pittsburgh as an English/writing major. “I felt like I learned more in that year than I did in four years of college,” she said, of the days before digital cameras and the Internet.

Gilliss then worked in public relations at Westminster College, New Wilmington, followed by positions as communications manager at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and public relations/publications manager at the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.

In Maryland she met her husband, David Gilliss.

In 2004, the couple moved to the U.S. Virgin Islands, following in the footsteps of two friends. Gilliss worked in continuing education at the University of the Virgin Islands. “It was a new position in a new department ... and I was the only person in our St. Croix office,” she said.

Occasionally, she made a 20-minute commute by seaplane to the university’s St. Thomas campus, where her boss and coworkers were assigned, “which was cool,” she added.

In 2007, Gilliss and her husband, who works in information technology, moved back to Mercer County. She became associate director of continuing education at Penn State Shenango in Sharon and he began working at U.S. Investigation Services Inc.

“Poor Dave is not a fan of the weather here,” his wife said. However, “Western PA was a better choice at the time, I think, because of the proximity of my family and the low cost of living, compared to Maryland.”

She is often asked why she left island life. One reason is that the Caribbean islands are an expensive place to live and travel to and from – even from island to island, Gilliss said.

Also, “After three years, I was getting a little homesick, my sister was expecting her first child, and we felt that we needed to be back in the states for career advancement,” she added.

Her parents, Roger and Leah Flynn, and her sister, Nicole Mathieson, and her family – husband, Jeff, and two kids – live in town. “I do not have any children, but I love being an aunt!”

After a few years, Gilliss lost her position at Penn State Shenango due to budget cuts, but had already started graduate school in 2009 to become a librarian, she said.

Gilliss had a master’s in publications design from the University of Baltimore, but a master’s from an ALA-accredited library science program is normally required for librarian and library director positions, she said.

She returned to the University of Pittsburgh for its master of library and information science program after transferring from Kent State. “I did the (MLIS) almost entirely online,” she said.

For the past several years she worked at the Community Library of the Shenango Valley in Sharon and Butler Area Public Library.

She credits staff and board members at the Grove City Community Library for helping her transition.

“I did have an emergency to deal with already, as the storm knocked out our phone lines and Internet” this week, “but we’re up and running again.”

She wants to discover what Grove City residents want from their community library.

“We already have great children and teen programs, so I’d like to start by expanding the adult programming.”

She envisions a book club, a crafters’ group and hosting speakers on different topics “from health and fitness to beer-making.”

But Gilliss first wants the public’s input. “There will be a survey on programs for adults soon on our website,” she said.

Wendy Riggi served as interim library director since January – after Jessica Hermiller returned to Ohio to work for her hometown library – and has helped Gilliss in her new position, as well as other staff and the library board. Riggi is back to her part-time schedule.

“My co-workers are great,” Gilliss said, noting all of her staff, “plays a part in making the library a great resource in our community. ... I love working at my hometown library!”

Info: 724-458-7320, Facebook, email gccl@grovecitypalibrary.org

Published May 17, 2014, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.

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