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Closing the book on a storied career: Grandview's longtime children's librarian to retire

January 07, 2014|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com
  • Children's librarian Edgar Bullington, Mr. B to nearly everyone who knows him, laughs with a family who knows him at the Grandview Public Library in Glendale on Tuesday, January 7, 2014. Bullington will retire from the library at the beginning of February after 26 years working at the Grandview location.
Children's librarian Edgar Bullington, Mr. B to… (Tim Berger / Staff…)

For Edgar Bullington, or Mr. B as he’s affectionately called, books are toys.

And for the past 26 years he’s had the grandest time playing with them as the children’s librarian at Glendale’s Grandview Library.

“I love reading to kids. Their eyes, their smiles. I get to play,” said the 67-year-old who is retiring next month.

Bullington is beloved for his theatrics. When he reads to children, which he has done weekly at a pre-school story time at Grandview Library for roughly two decades, he gives each character their own voice. His face crinkles when a character is mad, it widens when they’re surprised. He sways his hands when he has to portray a character dancing or singing.

Sometimes, he even adds props.

For several years he’s read “The Polar Express” at Balboa Elementary School before winter break. He wears a train conductor’s hat as he tells the story of a boy who rides a magical train to the North Pole and meets Santa Claus, who gives him a reindeer’s bell. When Bullington finishes the story he pulls out a bell hidden under his shirt collar and gives it a ring.

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His dedication to the characters stems from his experience in acting. He acted in high school — returning to his alma mater, Bellflower High School, in December 2012 to portray Ebenezer Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol” when the school was fundraising to revamp their theater. He also acted in community theater during and after college at Long Beach State University.

But for Bullington, reading to children has been the most rewarding acting he’s ever done.

“He’s magic. When he reads, a story comes to life,” said Katherine Loeser, branch manager at Grandview Library. “He’s a showstopper.”

Parents, who listened to Bullington read when they were children, have brought their own pre-schoolers to his story time, Loeser said.

“He is a fixture of the community,” Loeser said. “He really is.”

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