It was his fascination with that now archaic system of library organization that led the current director of the Northeast Regional Library to library work and a long career in the city. Forty-two years later, he is reflecting on a lifetime in the field as retirement looms on April 30.
“I have always considered each library to be a civic center of the community,” said McMullin. “We are a neutral place where people can meet, read, enjoy an event, use our meeting rooms, get on a computer, and generally find an oasis of calm and enlightenment in the middle of the city.”
Originally from Kenner, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans, McMullin came to Corinth in 1975 for a job opening at the library after completing graduate school.
“I grew up in a large city, and I always wanted to live in a small city,” he said. “It has worked out wonderfully well for me.”
He joined the Corinth Library as a reference librarian, a job that involved helping students research topics for their schoolwork in the pre-Google era.
“All we were doing all day long was searching for answers in reference books in that department and throughout the library,” said McMullin. “The internet has changed that entirely.”
After 14 years, he became collection development librarian and assistant director for the Northeast Regional Library, which includes 13 branches in Alcorn, Tishomingo, Prentiss and Tippah counties. Sixteen years later, he became director for the regional library, a role he filled for the past 12 years.
With the regional headquarters located in the Corinth branch, he has enjoyed the years spent on Fillmore Street.
“I love the fact that the founders of the library system had such vision in 1969 to build the building we are enjoying today," he said. “Various librarians — Donna Johnson McDonald, Ann Coker, Brandon Lowrey and now Cody Daniel — have taken good care of this noble structure. I’ve often marveled at the fine architecture, the quality furnishings and the artistic qualities of this building.”
Computers and the internet have eliminated the paper-based card catalog and most reference inquiries, shifting the role of libraries.
“In 1999, the library system started automating and making public access computers available,” said McMullin. “The public-access computers are really one of our most popular things in the library system. A lot of people still don’t have access to the internet, and they need to get to the internet to do research, to make job applications, to make resumes.”
Two years ago, the library began offering electronic books and audios, but physical books continue to be popular.
“Daily delivery of books from branch to branch using a courier who transfers items that are placed on hold is one of our most valuable services,” he said. “Active borrowing and lending from outside our system is important, too. We are the second most active library system in the state for making our items available to customers across the state.”
McMullin, who entertained many children as storyteller at the library, also enjoys gardening and playing piano. He is the pianist for Waldron Street Christian Church.
McMullin is looking forward to traveling. A trip to New Mexico, where his sister lives, is on the calendar for the summer, followed by Maine in the fall.
“I hope to visit many libraries across the U.S., especially the small ones like the ones in our region,” said McMullin. “Botanical gardens have always intrigued me, so they will be a priority for me to visit.”
Forty-two years after arriving, he considers Corinth home and plans to stay.
He is also looking forward to getting out his library card.
“I want to read all of the books on the library’s shelves that I didn’t have time for while I was working,” he said.