Roanoke library assistant marks more than four decades on the job

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) - In one of our hometown libraries, you'll find a special story.
It's one that's spanned nearly four decades and is still being written.
And our main character says his quest is not over, and there's more yet to come.

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Richard Taylor's face is like the front cover of a novel.

"Hello, how are you doing today?" he says to patrons.

His voice is the introduction.

"This is Richard at the main library, we have a book for you placed on hold."

And his welcoming smile spells out his dedication in a story that hasn't ended yet.

Taylor has the opening line for folks walking into the city's main library, and as it turns out, he's a character people tend to remember.

"I met a young lady last week, and she had known me when she was a little girl and I asked how old she was and she said she is 31 now," he said.

And it's no wonder. Taylor's story here began more than 41 years ago.

"I was 19 then. I am now 60. Proudly to say," he said, chuckling.

Born and raised in a Roanoke family with nine other siblings, Taylor initially went to college for broadcasting. But that's where the plot twists. College burned him out, but he soon found himself a grant position at the library, along with a friend in Sheila Umberger.

"Haha! Good memories, yeah," the director of the library system said, looking at a photo of the two of them with co-workers in the mid '80s. "If you look closely in that picture they're holding up catalog cards, so we have come a long way since then."

"Different me," Taylor said. "I was much thinner!"

In those years, Umberger and Taylor were on a quest. They worked side by side, bringing the Roanoke libraries into the 21st century, updating their universal system and computerized catalog.

And ever since, Umberger said Taylor has outdone himself.

"I get a lot of compliments for his good service," she said.

But Taylor's duties have evolved beyond the title of library specialist. He is a Star City Reader and said being a black male role model for local kids is important to him. Plus, he enjoys being able to offer all kinds of services for the community for free.

"We help the public grow to help themselves to become better people," he said.

In addition to his duties cataloging materials, checking out books and making calls, you can find him answering all kinds of questions.

"Where is the SS building? Next door. What time the bus run? Can I borrow a pen? No toilet paper in the restroom, that type thing," he said, laughing.

But Umberger said it's not just that volume of work that Taylor can look back and be proud of. It's the little things - the fine print - that stand out the most.

"He really likes people," she said. "A lot of people say that, but in his particular case he really lives it."

It's these things about the job that Taylor relishes, too.

"Well just last week I had a guy come in and he was letting me know that he got the job that he applied for, he used computers here at the library and some of the staff helped him with the application," he said. "...So that's rewarding to know that people benefit coming to the library."

While this chapter will come to a close when Taylor retires at 62, the stories of his kindness and his hard work will extend far beyond the library walls.

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