BiblioBios: Handled with care, Richey delivers mail and more

As KU Libraries’ Business Coordinator for Mail Services, Jim Richey is at the center of a constant flow of information and people. Since starting as a student employee in the 1980s, Richey has helped manage the daily operations of campus mail and the transportation of library materials with a meticulous approach and a kind, courteous manner. Recently honored by the libraries with a Staff Excellence Award, he engages with the KU community at Watson Library and along delivery routes up and down Jayhawk Boulevard with a focus on personal connection.

After decades on the job, Richey is adept at the logistical details and functions of his department and has developed the ability to anticipate problems before they arise. But beyond the responsibilities and tasks of his work, the people who come through the mailroom are his favorite part of the job. Along with his coworkers and fellow Business Coordinator Terri Thornton, Richey anchors the mailroom as a hub of interaction for libraries’ employees and even provides friendly guidance to the occasional lost student navigating the Watson Library stacks.  

“Our office is located near the Watson dock door, so we’re involved with a lot of the people going in and out,” Richey said. “We lend a hand and answer questions. There is lots of activity.”

Richey has worked with Thornton throughout his entire career, which began in the KU Campus Mail department in Strong Hall when Richey was a student studying journalism and advertising. Thornton and Richey made the transition over to KU Libraries Mail Services in Watson Library in the early 2000s when the libraries’ and campus mail efforts combined.  

Richey estimates that the mail services team delivers thousands of letters and packages each year. The team runs two routes a day for campus mail, delivers United States Postal Service mail at Watson Library and Strong Hall, and processes outgoing mail and packages for the libraries, including many interlibrary loan items. Coordinating with the courier system and incoming and outgoing deliveries at the Watson Library dock, they enable access to library materials and deliver TripSaver items to departments throughout the Lawrence campus.  

“It seems like between campus mail and KU mail services and all the ways we run around we meet a lot of people and get to know them,” Richey said.  

Richey also supervises student workers and interns, a sometimes-challenging job that he enjoys.

“I try to lead by example, being sure to be patient and helpful,” Richey said. “Some students work better if you give them something visual or a checklist and others learn better other ways. That’s part of it, determining what each student’s best learning style is.”

As part of their work with student employees over the years, Richey and the mailroom have partnered with KU Transition to Postsecondary Education (KUTEP) and Project SEARCH to provide workplace internships and on the job training for individuals with disabilities.

“We’ve had some real positive experiences with students,” Richey said.  

Richey has a personal perspective on life as a KU student as he attended the university in the 1980s, with one of his favorite memories being the men’s basketball NCAA National Championship in 1988.

“That was a great experience just because it was so unusual to see,” Richey said of the sixth seeded Jayhawks defeating higher seeded opponents, making it to the Final Four, and going on to win. “I watched the championship game with a bunch of friends, and it was just crazy when they won. Just an up and down game and a lot of fun to watch.”

Helping to enable library and campus connections, working with student employees, and empowering the accessibility of items are core functions of Richey’s work that he does with pride each day, but being honored by the libraries with a 2023 Staff Excellence Award was an unexpected twist.  

“The dean wanted to meet with me and I wondered, ‘What is this about?’ Richey said. “But she assured me right away it was good news. It was an honor. A very nice surprise.” 

BiblioBios shine a light on the people behind the collections, programs and services in KU Libraries. Find your link to important information and resources by connecting with our faculty and staff through the KU Libraries Directory. 

Tue, 06/04/2024


Wendy Conover

Media Contacts

Wendy Conover

KU Libraries

(785) 864-8051

Kevin McCarty

KU Libraries

(785) 864-6428