Vinton Library celebrates one year anniversary, adds new staff

VINTON–The Vinton Public Library celebrated its one year anniversary on November 18.

“The Vinton library has exceeded all expectations that I had for our new library,” said Roanoke County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jason Peters. “It has become a catalyst for bringing more people into our downtown area, something that we have needed for many years.  The business community is paying attention and many economic drivers have developed I believe, in part, from the downtown activity–drivers such as The Hive, the redevelopment of Roland E Cook and the former William Byrd, Macado’s, and Twin Creeks, and I believe there is much more on the horizon. It’s all connected.”

“The new library has brought a renewed sense of pride and energy in the community,” noted Vinton Vice Mayor Matt Hare.  “We had hoped that the library would be the match that lit the fire of redevelopment.  I think it is working and the evidence of that can be seen in the investments in the downtown area, redevelopment of two old schools into apartments, new restaurants, a brewery and greenways.  The library has become the community focal point we anticipated that it would.”

To keep up with the bustling activity, branch librarian Sarah Rodgers has announced several additions to the Vinton library staff in recent weeks.

Several new employees have joined the staff of the Vinton Public Library.  Shown front row left to right are Caley Mays, Hannah Hudson, Melinda Whitaker, and Teresa Frye. Top row--Bryce Chalkley, Kimsey Long, and Chadwick Luck.
Several new employees have joined the staff of the Vinton Public Library. Shown front row left to right are Caley Mays, Hannah Hudson, Melinda Whitaker, and Teresa Frye. Top row–Bryce Chalkley, Kimsey Long, and Chadwick Luck.

Patty Kiser is now the Children’s Library Assistant in charge of planning the children’s programming. She helps patrons, teens, and children at the Children’s Desk and throughout the library as needed.

Patty Kiser (center) is the new Children's Library Assistant at the Vinton Branch.
Patty Kiser (center) is the new Children’s Library Assistant at the Vinton Branch.

She grew up in Henry County, graduated from Fieldale Collinsville High School, moved to Roanoke in 1983, and then to Stewartsville in 1998. She earned an Associate’s degree in accounting from National Business College.

Kiser went on to work part-time for the Montvale branch of Bedford County Libraries before coming to Vinton.

“Growing up I always wanted to work in a library, so when a position opened up at Montvale, I applied for it after closing my store (Two P’s in a Pod) in Vinton in 2013,” said Kiser.

“I have always loved working with children and this library position at Vinton has been an amazing part of my library career,” she said. The Vinton position is closer to home and has made her family life much less hectic.

In her spare time, Kiser loves to craft, read, work in her gardens, spend time with family and friends, and “go junking” for vintage items.

Teresa Frye is a page completely new to library work. She is from Roanoke and graduated from Jefferson High School. She is grandmother to five and very interested in the children’s department of the library. She is also retired from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.

“I think Vinton’s new library is beautiful and I think it will be a nice place to work part-time,” says Frye.

Hannah Hudson is working as a part-time page. She shelves books, discharges items such as books and DVD’s from the book returns, assists patrons at the front desk, and helps them find items throughout the library.

She is originally from Danville and moved here to attend college. She is currently a student at Roanoke College, majoring in Literary Studies and Communication Studies with an interest in pursuing a Master’s degree in Library and Information Sciences.

“I took an interest survey at my college to help me figure out what I wanted to do with my life,” says Hudson. “Librarian was second on the list of results. I wasn’t very interested in library work at first though. I based my idea of librarians on the older lady who worked the small-town library back in Pittsylvania County. It seemed like a boring job. I researched it a bit more though and realized Library and Information Sciences is a growing field of study.”

She says she applied for the part time job in Vinton because “I wanted to see if being a librarian was more than sitting in a building with a lot of old, dusty books.” Turns out it was.

“The Vinton Library is always busy and full of life,” says Hudson. “We, as employees, are usually extremely busy helping patrons or shelving books. You meet a lot of interesting people here, too. Sarah Rodgers explained to me that the library wasn’t so much a library, but rather a community center. So, that’s what I tell people when they ask about my ‘boring’ job. Libraries aren’t just for books and reading, they’re about building a community and fostering relationships with people.”

Bryce Chalkley is a full-time Library Assistant. He currently spends most of his time working the Circulation Desk, but will be taking on teaching classes at the library, as well as other miscellaneous duties.

He was born and raised in Roanoke County and says he as “spent many of my formative years right here in Vinton. I got my high school diploma from William Byrd (Go Terriers!), and after that I earned my Bachelor’s in English at Virginia Tech (Go Hokies!),” said Chalkley.

“I worked at Virginia Tech’s Newman Library for nearly my whole time in Blacksburg, and enjoyed every minute of it,” he says. “I’ve always been an avid reader, and libraries have been a sort of second home for me for years, so when I saw the opportunity to get back to working in the library system recently, I decided to take it.”

He says he was offered the chance to interview at the Vinton branch and “thought of it as a fitting homecoming of sorts.” He also thought it would give him the opportunity to decide whether he wants to go back and pursue his Master’s degree in Library Science.

“I’m also thrilled to have the opportunity to work in such a fantastic new building, and with some fantastic people to boot,” he added.

As for his outside interests, “I am a chalkboard artist, specializing in hand lettering and typography. I got my start at my previous job, just doodling on a spare chalkboard, and it’s grown to the point that I now have business cards and do regular commissions for weddings, birthdays, and the like. Sarah Rodgers and Kimberly Burnette-Dean have already recruited me to do signs for events here at the library, which is perfectly fine with me – I’m getting paid to do something I love.”

Melinda Whitaker has worked at the Vinton Library for over a year. She started at the original library as a page and was recently promoted to part-time Library Assistant at the Circulation Desk.

“I’m enjoying my new position very much,” says Whitaker. “As a page I had the opportunity to work more hands-on with the books and materials. Since I have moved to the circulation desk,  I get to work more with the library patrons. Both are very rewarding.”

“My main focus is to assist patrons with researching materials, checking out items, account management, computer and library equipment assistance and so on,” says Whitaker. “I consider myself blessed to work with so many wonderful staff members and my favorite things–books.”

Whitaker is also an assistant director at Melody Makers music education classes for preschoolers.

She grew up in Vinton and attended William Byrd High School. Her family moved during her husband’s enlistment in the Marines and came back home when he was discharged. She has two sons. The oldest is an Army veteran; her youngest attends Virginia Military Institute.

Kimsey Long is the Teen Library Assistant at the Vinton Library.

“My main duties are to monitor the teen center and the teen events held here,” says Long. “I work at the children’s desk so I can also help patrons and check things out to both teens and patrons; I assist at the front desk whenever necessary; and I help to create ideas for teen events with the teen assistants from around the region.”

He was born in North Carolina but raised in Craig County and graduated from Craig County High School. He graduated in May from Roanoke College with a History degree with an African Studies Concentration. He currently lives in southwest Roanoke.

“I chose to work at the library so that I would be able to work with the public and with literature,” said Long. “The library also is a fantastic institution to be a part of.  This is the first time I have worked at a library, however, I worked with the Roanoke College Historical Department as their Sixteenth Century Editor for a short time.”

Long says he was job hunting, holding high hopes for any library job in the region, when he was offered the Teen Library Assistant job in Vinton.

“For the present time I am not sure what my future career will hold, but now that I have worked here for several months I am seriously considering a future in this Library system and an MLS would greatly help with this as well,” says Long.

Caley Mays is a page with the Vinton Library. She is from Roanoke and graduated from Liberty University in May.

Her responsibilities consist of discharging books from the book drop, shelving books, and assisting patrons at the front desk and drive thru.

“I chose to work at the library because I have always loved books and love the atmosphere of a library.” Says Mays. “When I was in high school, I used to work at the library and became interested in possibly pursuing it as a career one day. One of the reasons I chose to work at the Vinton library is because I am interested in pursuing a career in library work and the Vinton library is new and has many avenues that could open up doors in the future.”

Tatiana Durant is also a new page at the Vinton Library.

“Everything that goes out, we check back in,” says Durant.

In addition to her other duties as a page, she works with books and media received from other libraries and sent to other libraries. She moved to Roanoke recently and is in her first year of college at Virginia Western.

Chadwick Luck is a part-time Library Assistant, assisting “patrons in need.” He is from Roanoke and attends Virginia Western. He started off with the South County branch of the library and then transferred to Vinton.



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