As a child, Jolyn Bullock recalls playing librarian by taping an index card in the back of her books and “checking them out” to friends, foreshadowing her future decades-long career with Jefferson-Madison Regional Library.
Later this month, the Louisa County Board of Supervisors will recognize Bullock for her years dedicated to the local community and the Louisa Library, where she has worked since 1990.
Bullock has always loved libraries. They were a place where she could always find her favorite stories, and were also a source of comfort growing up.
She moved around a lot as a child and lived in Washington, D.C.; Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean; England; and New Jersey. She always loved reading, but books are heavy and difficult to transport. Libraries gave her access to books wherever she went.
“Everywhere I’ve lived, I’ve always gone to libraries,” Bullock said.
Books played an important role in her own childhood, and she enjoys sharing her love of reading with children. Her favorite part of her job as branch specialist is running storytime programs.
“I love to see the little kids,” she said. “They come in there, they’re all wiggly, and over time, they can sit and listen to the stories.”
Bullock believes that listening to stories can help children expand their vocabulary and expose them to new perspectives. After 30 years of reading to the local community, she said that adults will sometimes recognize her as the “library lady” and tell her they attended her storytimes when they were children.
“It makes you feel like a celebrity, even though you’re not,” she said.
After 30 years, she’s read to thousands of children and helped keep books accessible to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she says feels like something out of a science-fiction novel.
“It’s kind of like scifi, that we can’t come in contact with people because we’re afraid somebody is going to get sick or we would get sick,” Bullock said.
The library was closed for a few months but is now open by appointment, allowing five people in at a time for 45 minutes. Curbside pickup of books is also an option for those looking to read more, learn a new skill, or combat feelings of loneliness many people have experienced during quarantine.
“I always feel you’re never alone if you have a book,” Bullock said.
In March Bullock will mark her 31st anniversary working with the library. She plans to continue working there for as long as she can, because she loves her job, the people she works with, and what the library offers the community. She encourages everyone to take advantage of the resources the library offers.
“It’s a great service for the county,” Bullock said. “There’s not much that’s free in the world, but libraries are.”