No city or town is complete without a library. Fortunately, local and state governments are committed to maintain this long-standing bastion of knowledge and culture. Although paid staff manages most of the operations, volunteers provide invaluable services that augment the effectiveness of the library in the community.
Who Can Volunteer
Each library sets its criteria for volunteers. Most adults are welcome to help, and many libraries allow teens to volunteer for community service credit. Opportunities are available to anyone who is willing to learn and able to move about. The need for volunteers is generally during the day and early evening, while most libraries are open to patrons.
Libraries are looking for volunteers who will commit to help for at least two hours per week and can perform any of the following:
- carrying out mundane tasks;
- working alone;
- concentrating deeply;
- organizing distinct types of literary items;
- bending, stooping, reaching overhead, pulling and pushing heavy carts.
Volunteers can assist their local library in a variety of ways. Familiarity with the Dewey Decimal System and alphabetical filing is extremely helpful, as some duties call for finding items or placing them in proper order. However, library staff will gladly work with someone who is eager to learn.
- Processing library items: labeling books, magazines, video and audio items; shelving, assessing condition of books, repairing;
- Clerical duties: filing, web design, graphic arts;
- Patron assistance: answering telephones, greeting patrons, check-outs and returns;
- Events: organizing and/or assistance with special programs such as lectures, demonstrations;
- Maintenance: keeping patron areas in order, ensuring library items are stored neatly;
- Homebound services: scheduling and making deliveries and pick-ups for homebound patrons.
Benefits of Volunteering
The gift of volunteering at the library comes back in countless ways, including:
- new challenges;
- opportunities to share knowledge and skills;
- means to participate in a cause larger than oneself;
- a reason to go the library more often.
Volunteering is a tangible way to support the library that does not require money. Donating time, expertise and effort is just as essential as giving financial resources. Volunteering is an opportunity to touch lives. It is an avenue to connect with the community, form new relationships and help maintain and expand the services of an integral public institution.