Books not only hold the knowledge the world has already acquired but can also unlock the yet untapped imagination trapped inside us.
In her many years of tending to the wealth of knowledge in the repository that is the O’Fallon Public Library, Paula Taylor has helped countless local residents turn to the proper pages required to do those things.
“I loved it. I have always loved it here,” Taylor said.
Before coming to the library, Taylor worked a number of jobs, ranging from licensed practical nurse to preschool teacher.
“I did not have an easy time in life figuring out what I was going to do when I grew up,” Taylor said.
Then she took a job Belleville Public Library. Shortly thereafter, a job opened up in O’Fallon, and she jumped on it.
“I didn’t even think I’d get the job to begin with, and next thing I know it had been 15 years — now 21 — time flew by,” Taylor said. “I’ve had a lot of laughs, and a lot of good times.”
Taylor started at the library in 1996 part-time at the circulation desk, which said, “is kinda of the general first point of contact for everybody that comes in, so I got to do a little bit of everything,” she said.
In 2011, she started working “behind the scenes — more with the books rather than the people,” cataloging.
Taylor said libraries have become some of her “favorite places to be.”
“You might think that a library is kind of not really an active place, like we’re all sitting around ‘shushing’ people, but you actually have all kinds of little encounters with different kinds of people, and you get to find out about our different kinds of books. And now there’s even yoga offered free here. It’s great,” Taylor said.
But after cataloging more than two decades of time at the library, Taylor will be retiring. Her last day will be Sept. 28.
She is looking forward to traveling with her husband, Fred, and spending more time with her mother, who just turned 90.
But for those who have gotten used to seeing her at the library, she still plans on coming around regularly.
“I just live real close to the library, so I’ll be in all the time — probably so much they’ll wonder if I actually did retire,” she said with a chuckle.
However, just visiting isn’t just what she has in mind.
“I’m hoping I can do a little volunteering at the library, too,” she said. “We have great volunteers who do all kinds of good things for us, and I’d love to be able to help them, too.”
Because to Taylor, the library is an integral part of O’Fallon, or any community for that matter, and something everyone should strive to make better.
“It’s just kind of this aspect of being a part of a community and a place where everybody can come and everybody has a stake in it — a share — and I liked being a part of that,” she said.