After joining the Yadkin Public Library 10 years ago as assistant librarian, Christy Ellington has recently been promoted to branch librarian. The new role comes following the retirement of 40-year librarian, Malinda Sells.
“I’ve been here since October of 2007,” said Ellington this week as she sat at a table in the bustling Yadkinville library. After learning of Sells’ retirement, effective June 30, Ellington applied for the lead position and got the job offer July 25 and accepted it.
The branch librarian and the assistant librarian are the only two full-time positions at the library, so at the moment, Ellington is filling both roles. She is assisted by fairly new part-time staff, including Stephanie Koreneff, library program assistant; Lorraine Sizemore, library assistant; and extra helpers, Sharon Brandon and Jan Hall.
“We are working to get our staff trained and things organized so it works not just for us, but for the public,” said Ellington. “The library is not just a place to find a book or magazine, or to check out a video, but for other resources. It is a learning hub.”
Ellington and her husband, Randy, are both veterans of the U.S. Marine Corps. She said she’s used base libraries and libraries in the towns and counties where they’ve lived to check out books on sign language, French, how to train a dog and more. “It was a love of mine,” she said of books and libraries.
The West Forsyth High School graduate is originally from Davie County, but spent some time living with her father in Hamptonville while in high school at Starmount. Her husband is a native of Alamance County.
Following graduation, Ellington enlisted in the Marines, and spent four years in service, during which time she met and married her husband, a 26-year career serviceman who now works with North Carolina Department of Transportation’s IMAP program in Guilford County. She left the service at the end of her required four-year enlistment to be a full-time mother.
When Randy chose to retire from the Marines, the couple started looking for homes near their families and found a home in Yadkinville online that Ellington said they loved. “That’s what brought us here in 2006 when he retired,” she said.
Both of their daughters, Jenna and Chelsea, went on to graduate from Forbush High School.
While raising her children, Ellington used the GI Bill to earn her associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in public administration and justice administration, thinking she would eventually like to be in the legal field. “The legal field wasn’t want was right for me,” she said. “I had a family already and I knew the time it would take.
“[The assistant librarian position] came available, and it just felt like the right fit,” said Ellington, noting her love of books and literacy. “A lot of the job was centered around preschool literacy and doing outreach to preschools and daycares.
“I pretty much focused on kids, and that was where I shelved so I worked up to knowing the collection, and then Malinda let me select the books for that area,” she said. “It was my niche — finding books that sparked their interest and seeing kids excel at that.”
Now moving into this new broader role, Ellington wants to expand the services the Yadkin Public Library has. “I have a strong desire to make the experience of coming into the library the best experience it can be. They may be here to check out books, but there are other resources they may not know they need. We as a library have to go a step further,” she said.
“We are a small town, and I know the resources are going to be limited but it is an important job for us. Just because we live in a small town doesn’t mean our residents should have less offerings, instead it should be more personalized,” Ellington said. “We get to know our patrons, what their readership is, their likes and dislikes, what their families are needing, their children’s ages and if they are homeschooling. I feel like that is part of my job to do that.”
In addition to posting flyers on upcoming events and listing them on the library’s website, Ellington said the staff has started a monthly newsletter providing email subscribers with all the activities and events scheduled for the month at the library. A new section of the newsletter will highlight a different government entity or nonprofit and how it provides resources for the community.
“We’re helping you make your life better outside our building, maybe with something they didn’t even know they needed,” she said, explaining the idea behind the new resource highlight. A few weeks ago, a couple had been in the library to search the NC Works site for job postings. In talking with the couple, Ellington learned they were homeless, and had been living in a local hotel until they’d used the last of their funding. In trying to find the couple help, she learned that the Salvation Army will set up appointments at the county Department of Social Services to aid those in need.
Outside of work, Ellington is looking forward to welcoming her first grandchild, Emery Grace Lewis, daughter of Jenna Ellington and Daniel Lewis, at the end of September. Her youngest daughter, Chelsea, is scheduled to graduate from Appalachian State University in spring 2018.
To learn more about what the Yadkin Public Library has to offer, visit http://nwrl.org/friendly.php?s=YadkinCountyPublicLibrary or call 336-679-8792.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.