Blackwater Library hires new director

Published 10:42 am Wednesday, June 25, 2014

FRANKLIN—After serving as the director of the Blackwater Regional Library system since 2009, Yvonne Hilliard-Bradley has announced that she will retire. To take her place, the board of trustees has hired Jenny Bailey, who is the Smithfield branch manager. Bailey will start her new job on Tuesday, July 1.

Jenny Bailey will become the new library director on Tuesday, July 1. -- SUBMITTED | JEFF HUFF

Jenny Bailey will become the new library director on Tuesday, July 1. — SUBMITTED | JEFF HUFF

Bailey has been with Blackwater Regional since 2011 when she was hired as the branch manager at Carrollton. In 2013 she was promoted to the Smithfield location.

“My boss, the current director, came to me a while ago and said that she was incredibly impressed by the way I have been able to manage the two libraries,” Bailey said, adding that she was responsible for both Carrollton and Smithfield for a time. “She wanted me to go for it. It’s always been a dream of mine since I started working to get to this level to make a big impact.”

Bailey also said that you can make an impact on the branch level, but as the regional director she’d have more control over how the system operates and the services that the system can provide.

Coming immediately from the ground level in the system gives her an advantage, she said.

“I’m in touch with what is going on more on the ground level, so I feel like that’s good to take in,” she said. “I think that will translate into my new job.”

As far as fulfilling her dream of becoming a system director, Bailey said she’s quite happy.

“I am actually really excited,” she said. “We are fully funded this year, and we already have a couple of projects in the works. It is going to be awesome.

“I’m ready to get in, learn what I’m supposed to learn, and get acclimated.”

While doing her undergrad at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Bailey got into libraries by interning at the Library of Virginia in archives.

“As an English major who concentrated on Southern American Literature, I was interested in doing archival work,” she said.

And being exposed to libraries helped propel her to the University of South Carolina, where Bailey achieved her Master’s of Library and Information Science. Her first job out of college was in the Hampton City Public Library system, which is near where she grew up in Newport News. She was working in the front end of the library with the customers.

“Honestly, I thought it was going to be kind of a puff job, but it was incredibly challenging,” Bailey said. “No two days are the same. But I found a lot of satisfaction in helping people.”

From there, she worked in Suffolk as a children’s librarian.

“Basically, you are instilling in these children important things about literacy,” she said, adding that she also incorporated science, technology, engineering and math. “I was able to incorporate all sorts of things into the eager young minds. Going to work was a lot like play time, but it was also an exhausting job.”

From there, Bailey had been dreaming of getting a branch manager job, and she saw the opening in Carrollton and has been with the Blackwater system since then.

She said the library division has been a great place to work.

“We have a very capable staff who run this place amazingly, so I’m able to get a lot more of the administrative reports and everything done,” Bailey said. “But every once in a while, I get to go up front and check out a book.

“I find myself having to stop myself from going up front sometimes because I still want to do a lot of the things on the front end,” she added with a laugh.

Hilliard-Bradley said that Bailey is going to do a good job.

“Jenny has demonstrated talented leadership in several capacities, as she has moved quickly from managing a small branch to a large one, and as she was chosen to be a part of a select group of library professionals to participate in VALLA, the Virginia Library Leadership Academy,” Hilliard-Bradley said. “I am excited to think of what she will be able to accomplish over the coming years with her wealth of energy, creativity and enthusiasm for her work.”

Bailey wanted to personally invite people to come by the branch in your area.

“Libraries are what I really love,” she said. “You can come in here, and everyone will be treated equally whether you are rich or you don’t have two dimes to your name. A lot of the community still thinks of the library as just a place for books.

“But we have Internet connectivity for people without it at home. We have digital books, ebooks, that you can check out for free. There’s movies, music and all sorts of stuff. We want to see people use it.”