History Makers: Richmond librarian Patty Parks

Amanda Sullivan and Patty Parks (right) bind books for the People's Library.
Amanda Sullivan and Patty Parks (right) bind books for the People's Library.

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — In a place already filled with thousands upon thousands of books, you would not expect to see someone making more.  Don’t tell that to Patty Parks.

“This is paper slurry,” she points out the ingredients she is using to make hand-made paper.

Parks is here to help Richmonders preserve memories.

“It’s an empty book, and you fill it out with your story,” she lovingly describes what has become one of her passion projects.

Parks oversees the People’s Library, which initially started in 2013 by Mark Strandquist and Courtney Bowles at Virginia Commonwealth University.  It is now 300 books strong at the Main Richmond Public Library on East Franklin Street.

“We believe everyone does have a story, and what an opportunity for you to be able to share it,” she explains.

When people return the books with their own unique stories, she catalogs them for others to check out.

“It can be from grandmothers and their recipes to this book is about scars,” Parks lists just some of the topics covered in the People’s Library.

Asma Alomari, who is now a freshman at VCU, volunteered at the library throughout her high school years. She used People’s Library books as part of ESL outreach at the Henrico Adult Education Center.

“They were using the books that we made to help them better their English,” Alomari explains.

About the People’s Library she says, “It’s important for you to share your thoughts and ideas.”

Library intern Amanda Sullivan also sees how Parks makes a difference every day with the People’s Library and when she takes resources on the road to Farmers Markets as part of what she calls the ‘Laptop Librarian’ project.

With all the ways she makes an impact, Parks still stops short of considering herself a History Maker.

“I was really surprised because I think all librarians do the same types of things, so you know I think this award is not really particularly for me,” she says.  “I really think this award is about librarianship.”

Other winners of the 2016 History Makers Awards include Dream Academy, Richmond Region Tourism, CodeVA and Dr. Edward H. Peeples.

They will receive their awards on October 18.  8News is a proud sponsor of the celebration.  Follow this link to purchase tickets and to learn more information.

Find 8News on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram; send your news tips to iReport8@wric.com.