By Brittany Woodby
While many kids grow up with dreams to be firemen or baseball players, John Paul Myrick wanted to be a librarian.
“I decided I wanted to be a librarian when I was 15,” he said. “It was when the new central library opened in Birmingham and I just thought ‘this is so cool.’ I went to school and told my librarian that was what I had decided to be and she asked me if I was crazy.”
Now Myrick, who has set the record for being the longest-serving librarian in the Cullman County public libraries, is leaving the system to continue his career as librarian at Bevill State Community College in Jasper.
“I’ve loved being here,” Myrick said. “It’s been a learning experience but I just feel like now is the time for me to take the next step in my career. I’m ready for new challenges.”
The county library system has seen a lot of changes since Myrick took the helm in 1992, including extensive rennovations to the Garden City and Cullman branches, new buildings for the Fairview and Hanceville branches and the formation of a new library branch in Colony.
“We’ve accomplished a lot but there is still a lot of room to grow,” Myrick said.
The new advancements in the system were part of Myrick’s campaign to get back the community’s involvement with the library.
“I’ve tried really hard to turn the community’s attitude towards the library around,” Myrick said. “We had lost a lot of friends and now we’re winning a lot of friends back.”
Myrick is also leaving behind a legacy in the system’s technical development. Since he introduced Internet service and extensive Web-based user features, the Cullman County library system has become one of the most technologically advanced libraries in the state.
“I’m really proud of all the advancements the library has made in technology,” Myrick said. “We’ve almost doubled our collection now, especially with the additions made through E-books.”
Myrick said one feature he is particularly fond of in the library system is the new Bookmobile.
“I grew up using the Bookmobile as a kid,” he said. “I’m really excited we have that to offer the community now.”
Though his new position is outside of Cullman County, Myrick said he will still live in Cullman and be active in the community’s affairs, including the library.
“We’ve had some great moments and we’ve had some sad moments,” he said. “I’ve made a lot of friends and I will still be a supporter of the library.”