For 20 years, Andrea Tullos has been a key employee at the Orange County Public Library. On Friday, Nov. 22, she will be moving back to Louisiana and embarking on a new adventure! We sat with her for a bit and chatted about her time with us.
1) When did you start working at the library?
We moved here from New Orleans in July of 1999, and we used the library every single week. The children's librarian had received a Smart Start grant and needed assistance with that. She knew I had grant experience so I started working with her part-time in January 2000. After 2 years of part-time work and volunteer roles with the library, I moved into the position of full-time business manager, which fit my background in finance and management.
2) What inspired you to go after a Master in Library Science (MLS)?
My passion for librarianship and my love of community were the two key reasons I remember. Libraries provide such awesome platforms for GREAT work and I knew that if I was going to be a leader in librarianship, I needed to pursue my MLS. I remember having a family meeting with our three kids, husband, three cats and dog and imploring them to 'hold it together' while I pursued my degree at NC Central University and continued to work full-time. They did a great job and they were very glad when I was done! I also had so much encouragement and support from the librarians and the library director at that time, Brenda Stephens. It was a great decision!
3) You’ve balanced a lot: family, school, work, restaurant ownership/operation, and community volunteer. Where do you get your energy?
Coffee! But seriously, I get a charge from being involved and seeing results. When I work hard, I'm also playing hard. I say that because some of the things you mentioned felt like play, but in the end it all motivates me. Inspiration of what can be, that’s always in the back of my mind. And while I have done a lot of balancing, I am humbled by how the balance has provided me with a very close-knit loving family, fruitful career, and a love of LIFE.
4) What are you most proud of as it relates to your tenure at the library?
Change. When Lucinda [Munger], the library's current director came to the library in 2009, she shared with me a saying that I reflect on daily, "If nothing changes, nothing changes." No truer words for how libraries have evolved over the years. Today, libraries work to be more accessible to all, and we’re more intentional about engaging the community and having a seat at the table to tackle community issues. The Orange County Public Library has evolved so much in the last 10 years, and it’s amazing.
5) What does the future hold for you?
After 20 years here in Orange County my husband, Joe and I are returning to New Orleans. It has been a dream for quite a while and it’s a homecoming in many ways. Joe is picking up right where he left off in NOLA, recording and playing music. I will be the Library Director for St. John the Baptist Parish, just 30 minutes outside of New Orleans, where I attended high school and met Joe. So divine intervention is another wonderful description of this opportunity.
6) What will you miss most about Hillsborough/Orange County?
You mean, besides the people, the scenery, the arts, the local authors, the community and the wonderful landscape and hills....Yes, I will miss a lot. We raised our three children in Orange County, made oodles of friends, who became more like family, and as the Assistant Library Director. I got to serve the community in an up-close and personal way. I'll miss all my library peeps the most, though, especially as I embark on this new adventure without them.