If you’ve picked up a book by your favorite author from a branch library or gotten reading materials from the Bookmobile, you can thank David Parnell.
It’s all in a day’s work for Parnell, chief of extension for the Orangeburg County Library system.
“I go out on the Bookmobile,” Parnell said. “I also am in charge of all five outlying branches of the library.”
“So between going out on the Bookmobile, I’m running out to the branches, making sure everything is running straight, training the branch managers, making sure they get everything they need to do their daily operations,” he said.
“And I also deliver books to nursing homes,” Parnell added.
On certain days of the week, the Bookmobile travels to areas of the county that don’t have a branch library and delivers books to residents, he said.
He said he gets to know the reading tastes of the regular patrons of the Bookmobile.
“We have customers that come on a regular basis, and we know what they like to read. So we will go on out here into the main branch … and we’ll pull books that we know they will like to read,” Parnell said.
“And we’ll have them ready for them when they come on the Bookmobile. And they’re in and out real quick."
Customers at the branch libraries reserve books online, he said, and “we have them delivered out to the branches."
“We’ve got a runner that goes out to all the branches at least once a week, and (to) Holly Hill, which is a larger branch, he goes at least twice a week,” he said.
Parnell said he really enjoys his job.
“I’d have to say my favorite part is interacting with the customers on the Bookmobile,” he said. “When I get to out there and people are glad to see you and you’ve brought them some books.
“And they’re like, “Thank God you’re here!” and are always saying, “We’re so appreciative." We’re always getting compliments on how well we do out there.”
Parnell added, "It’s nice to know you’re not just going through the motions, that people ... actually appreciate what you’re doing. So they not only come in and pick up their books, they’ll sit there and talk to you about what’s going on with their life."
“You actually become friends with them, some of the customers,” he said.
Many of the customers have come to really depend on the Bookmobile, Parnell said.
“There are some people out there that are hardcore readers, and if for some reason the Bookmobile breaks down or doesn’t make it out there, it’s a heart-breaker for them,” he said. “The Bookmobile is really important to them.”
In the summer, the Bookmobile visits the Downtown Orangeburg Revitalization Association’s farmers market every other Tuesday and also participates in a summer camp for kids, he said.
He said it’s hard to pinpoint his least favorite part of his job.
“There’s really not anything I dislike about my job,” Parnell said. “If I didn’t like my job, I wouldn’t be here.
“There’s times when it gets a little stressful. We do a lot of programming and we’re a little short-handed."
But he said he really enjoys everything about his job.
Originally from Jacksonville, Florida, Parnell served for 20 years in the U.S. Navy before coming to Orangeburg.
“A couple months after I got out of the Navy, I was already hired here,” he said. “And I’ve been working here ever since.”
In his spare time, Parnell enjoys tackling something more physically adventurous than reading – he likes to ride motorcycles.