Using books to bring people together

Brian Hulsey has loved books his entire life.

“I don’t have a single memory of not knowing how to read,” he said. “It was ingrained in me early on.”

As a little kid, he would walk into his local public library and leave with stacks and stacks of books.

“Literacy and reading were huge foundations in my life,” he said.

So it’s no wonder, then, that he ended up making his career working in libraries.

“Public libraries are integral to our communities and our societies throughout our lives,” he said. “They also level the socio-economic playing field for everyone in the community.”

As manager of the South Whatcom branch of the Whatcom County Library, Hulsey has helped to make sure the branch’s resources are available to as many people as possible. The library system has done work to reach local school districts, and help connect all the local libraries, public and academic, together.

“I really love what we do here at WCLS,” Hulsey said. “We really try to knock down all the barriers.”

Hulsey also served on the committee for the Whatcom READS program, an annual program where the entire county is invited to read and discuss the same book.

Hulsey put his passion for inclusion to work on the national level when he completed the American Library Association Emerging Leader program. In the program, he led a team that worked toward expanding diversity in staffing at public libraries.

They put together a series of best practices for libraries to follow to get more diversity and inclusion in their staff.

“[We] boiled it down into a toolkit that any public library could do,” Hulsey said. The Public Library Association was so impressed with their work, it has started implementing their toolkit.

Advocating for equity, diversity and inclusion has always been important for Hulsey. His husband serves in the military, and they were together during the days of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

“Now we’re at a place when it’s OK to be who you are,” he said. “And your differences can be helpful.”

Hulsey is one of this year’s winners of the Top 7 Under 40 Award. Click here to read about the rest of the winners.

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