Oak Ridge Public Library Volunteer Spotlight: Buford Carter

April 3, 3018

The Oak Ridge Public Library is recognizing long-time volunteer Buford Carter as part of National Library Week, April 8-14.

Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, Mr. Carter graduated from Virginia Tech with a degree in Chemical Engineering. He was drafted by the Army as part of the Special Engineer Detachment unit to work at K-25. However, Carter was inducted into the Army before K-25 was ready for employees, so he worked at Columbia University as a chemical engineer for a few months until K-25 was ready. After completing his time in the Army, Union Carbide hired him as an employee at K-25. When Carter retired, he was just two months shy of having 50 years of continuous service.

Shortly after his retirement, Carter began volunteering at the Oak Ridge Public Library in 1993. Library staffers say he has done and continues to do a little bit of everything, including:

  • Writing, maintaining and revising most of the pre-programmed instructions the library uses to print spine labels, overdue notices, inventory reports, purchase orders, circulation reports, and other materials.
  • Laminating all book jackets and maintaining the obituary file.
  • Checking audiovisual materials for needed repairs and repairing what is salvageable – he has done this for years, all the way back to cassette tapes and videotapes that had to be spliced when broken.
  • Together, Carter and library staff developed the volunteer and organization list databases, which are still in use today. Staffers say they spent what felt like hundreds of hours getting those forms, formulas, queries, and reports just right.
  • When the retrospective conversion from the City’s homegrown computer system to Sirsi and MARC records left the library with thousands of items with incorrect bibliographic records or no records at all, Carter jumped in and plowed through many pages of printouts, helping the library get the job done in a matter of months instead of years.
  • Indexing Dorathy Moneymaker’s book We’ll Call It Wheat and Martha Cardwell Sparrow’s book The Oak Ridgers to make them easily accessible for local history buffs.
  • For years, Carter toted every box of tax forms that came into the library, replenished supplies every morning, and let staff know when they needed to order more. Back when the library carried many different forms, this was a formidable task – and the staff could not have done without him.

“We can’t thank Buford enough for his past accomplishments and contributions,” Oak Ridge Public Library Director Kathy McNeilly said. “We are so grateful for is his continued service over 25 years. Buford is quickly approaching 20,000 volunteer hours – that is really something!”

About Oak Ridge Public Library:
Oak Ridge Public Library is located at 1401 Oak Ridge Turnpike. The library serves a community of nearly 30,000 and features a Children’s Room with special programming as well as an extensive archive facility with materials dating back to the early days of Oak Ridge and the Manhattan Project. You can reach them at (865) 425-3455.