February 17, 2018

Richard Bray | Movers & Shakers 2007

An Interrupted Life


After doctors told Richard Bray that he had to limit severely his heavy workload, running his bookstore and participating in numerous literary and cultural organizations, Bray looked into alternative careers. Tests suggested he was suited to be a minister or a librarian, though neither seemed obvious to him. But now, as senior services director at Alameda County Library, he’s become a librarian who helps seniors with their social and spiritual needs as well as their intellectual ones.

One of Bray’s most popular program ideas is his annual event on aging and spirituality, an idea that occurred to him when he realized how many ‘older folks of a gazillion different ethnicities’ had asked him for materials like ‘meditation for dummies,’ ‘Buddhism for beginners,’ and the like. When many who attended the early programs said they wanted to understand their neighbors from different cultures, Bray chose the theme ‘My Neighbor’s Faith’ for the next program.

Bray says that because the library’s senior services are well known in the community through its programming and the ‘Homeword Bound’ strategy (a ‘literary meals on wheels’), seniors often treat it as a social service referral agency. ‘Hardly a day goes by when I don’t receive a call about an older person having trouble with a money-hungry relative or whatever,’ says Bray.

That suits him just fine – he has a ‘great Rolodex,’ he says. To reiterate one of his favorite quotes, ‘It is our business to be interrupted.’




CURRENT POSITION Senior Services Director, Alameda County Library, CA

DEGREES MLS, San Jose State University, 1994

STRANGE BOOKFELLOWS He accepted a major book award for Barbara Kingsolver so she could take her daughter trick-or-treating