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Icon at Halifax Public Library closing book on career

“Enjoy life!” That’s been the motto genealogist Julia Carrington of the Elmo community has held onto her entire life, and she plans to continue to do so as she retires from the Halifax County Public Library. 

Her last day will be Tuesday. 

 Since the 1980s, Carrington has been a fixture of the Halifax County Library System, first working at the South Boston Library. 

“I did a little bit of everything,” said Carrington.  

She held the position as children coordinator, tended to the flowers outside, shelved books, headed the summer reading programs, read for story time, and then she started working with genealogy. 

“My favorite time was being with the children. I really enjoyed reading to them and teaching them,” said Carrington. 

This admiration for children and her willingness to teach them started long before her time at the libraries. 

After attending Wilson Memorial School in Oak Level, Carrington went on to study teaching at Stratford College in Danville. 

With her degree, she began teaching third grade until she married and started having children of her own. 

Carrington gave birth to four girls and four boys. 

By the early 80s her children had completed their schooling, and she began her work at the library. 

After working at the South Boston Library, she moved into her position as genealogist at the Halifax County Public Library. 

Long before working at the libraries, her enjoyment of researching family history began in her home when she was young. 

“We would sit around the dinner table and talk about families and trace back their history,” said Carrington. 

The library has given more resources than her family as she now uses ancestry.com, heritagequestonline.com and three sets of files. 

Carrington helps local families research their family history every Tuesday, and two volunteers are available to help with genealogy on Wednesdays. 

“A lot of people come in looking for our help in researching their family history, and they usually use the files,” said Carrington. 

Other times, the genealogist will receive phone calls at her home from those who have questions about their family history. 

She then takes their request to the library, finds the information and delivers it. 

Library Director Jay Stephens said Carrington’s knowledge of local history is “unsurpassed.” 

“She has been an invaluable resource for our customers doing genealogical and local history research,” said Stephens. 

Some could say her time at the library has been well spent, but now she says, “It’s just time” to retire. 

“I’m plenty old to retire. I’ve had a wonderful time, and there is a little feeling of sadness, but it’s time to retire,” said Carrington. 

Even though she will be retiring, her face will still be seen from time to time at the library as she plans to continue helping those who come to her with family history requests.

Others may find Carrington at one of the six nursing homes where she plays piano, “one of the joys” of her life. 

She also spends her time creating paintings of barns to hang in the nursing homes. 

“It brings great joy to their faces when they see the barns. They’ll hold it and say ‘I know where you painted that from. That has to be my barn.’ And anytime you can take their mind off themselves, it’s a good thing,” said Carrington. 

On Sundays, she teaches Sunday school at Arbor Church. 

Even though she will keep busy, her time at the library will be missed. 

“I have never worked with people who are more kind and loving than my fellow employees at both libraries. I will miss them greatly,” said Carrington. 

“I loved it after being out for 30 years, while I raised my eight children. Without the libraries, I wouldn’t have met some of my wonderful, life-long friends. I have really had a wonderful life.”   

“She is a wonderful, warm person, and we all will miss her and hope that she will continue to frequent the library as a customer.  Her many years of service to the library and the community are greatly appreciated,” concluded Library Director Stephens.