“I believe that an individual can make a difference with focus, energy and perseverance,” says Leo Taylor. Retired since 2000, the former corrections professional has spent considerable time in the library as both a library user and as a volunteer chairing The Library Foundation’s nominating committee. His mission: to read a selected list of books, and to give back to this community.
Taylor is using his retirement years to pursue these lifelong learning goals. “I have the books listed in my journal,” Taylor explains, “and I am going about the business of spending time at the library and home reading them.”
In the criminal justice system, Taylor saw that early problems in a young person’s life can establish a pattern of juvenile delinquency making it hard to keep them out of the adult system. But the library can change the course of a young person’s life. “The library engages youth and actively promotes the potential of self-directed, lifelong learning,” he says. “The Oveson-Campbell Homework Center is an outstanding example of the library helping young adults make constructive use of their out-of-school time.”
Leo Taylor is also on a mission to seek out people who share his passion and commitment about the library, to work with him on The Library Foundation Board of Trustees. He speaks persuasively about the role of private philanthropy in supporting that mission. “The Library Foundation work is so worthwhile, and the relationship with other trustees and staff make me want to be apart of it.” He sees the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library as “a gem in the community,” and wants to see more awareness of what the library provides to Shawnee Count. His passion for what the library has to offer motivated him to join the Foundation board in order to better support this community resource.
One of Taylor’s interests led him to support the development of a library program honoring veterans, and was a presenter at the first program that featured the heroism of the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II. He also facilitated An Evening with James Earl Jones, serving as co-committee chair of a joint venture with the Brown Foundation. He has found that the library is an organization that allows individuals the opportunity to give back to it in many ways. “At my graduation from Washburn University, Dr. Karl Menninger was the commencement speaker,” says Taylor. “He told us that our education is just not beginning with the receipt of our Bachelors degree. He was so right; learning is a life long experience. I embrace this vision and try to pass it on.”
Some Titles from Leo Taylor’s Book List
- My American Journey by Colin Powell
- Biko by Donald Clouds
- The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang
- A Dream Deferred by Shelby Steele
- Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared M. Diamond
- A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe
- Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
- I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe
- Death in Holy Orders by P.D. James
- Original Sin by P.D. James
- Skipping Christmas by John Grisham
- Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
- The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan
- Touching My Father’s Soul by Jamling Tenzing Norgay
- The Shame of the Nation by Jonathan Kozol
- Moby Dick by Herman Melville
- Ulysses by James Joyce
- You Can’t Go Home Again by Thomas Wolfe
- My Face Is Black Is True by Mary F. Berry
- Uncommon Valor by Melvin Claxton & Mark Puls
- State of Denial by Bob Woodward
- Indian Killer by Sherman Alexie
- Out of America by Keith B. Richberg
- Arc of Justice by Kevin Boyle
- When The Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
- The Outsider by Richard Wright
- Native Son by Richard Wright
- The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
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