New Directions for Library Volunteers
If libraries are the hub of a community, its volunteers are the living connectors that help build the commitment of the community to the library through their services and engagement. Many of the basic principles and practices for recruiting, retaining and managing volunteers have not changed in decades but there are some new shifts in focus. This article brings some of that fresh perspective to the surface.
Get Involved: Powered by Your Library
This statewide California initiative, marshaled by Carla Lehn of the California State Library and powered by VolunteerMatch, spotlights the contributions of skilled volunteers in public libraries. In the clearinghouse find:
- High Impact Volunteer Position Descriptions
- Volunteer Coordinator Job Descriptions & Sample Interview Questions
- Volunteer Policies, Handbooks, and Training Manuals
- Volunteer Publicity and Promotion
- Volunteer Engagement Work Plans
- Get Involved Links and Resources
Carla Lehn’s tips for attracting the right volunteer for the job:
- Think about the changing face of volunteers—Boomers, along with Gen-X and Millennials, want to do more than put books on shelves. They want to create something that wasn’t there before, or at least be able to use their skills to see an impact on the mission and goals of the organization. If you don’t take that into account, you’re going to miss the boat.
- Write a compelling posting—Volunteers are looking for referrals that pop! One of the most popular listings on VolunteerMatch was called “Change the World in your Pajamas.” People are busy, but they still want to take on a role that has a lot of impact.
- Check your spelling!—Postings that receive the fewest hits contain typos that immediately turn people away.
- Find a great photo—Don’t use a generic shot of a building; postings that contain a photo that shows the type of activity a volunteer will be involved in attract three times as many referrals.
BABY BOOMER VOLUNTEERS
Transforming Life After 50
“At 33.2%, the volunteer rate for Boomers is the highest of ANY age group.” This program explores the great potential for tapping the skills and expertise of the Boomer generation. Find links to four webinars and a podcast on the topic. (Note: Infopeople archives will ask you to “register.”)
Volunteer Engagement Course
For full immersion in your planning to engage Boomer volunteers, investigate the archived materials from this Infopeople course, the fourth in the Transforming Life After 50 Fellowship series, with instructor Carla Lehn. In addition to the archived presentations, there are numerous helpful resources on recruiting, retaining, and overcoming barriers like union and staff resistance.
VOLUNTEERING IN A 2.0 WORLD
Wikipedia defines it as “volunteer who completes tasks, in whole or in part, off-site from the organization being assisted, using the Internet and a home, school, telecenter or work computer or other Internet-connected device.”
Myths About Online Volunteering
A volunteer expert and consultant dispels some of the common misconceptions about virtual volunteers in this webinar from TechSoup.
Billed as the microvolunteering network, Sparked offers an online channel to connect wannabe virtual volunteers with opportunities. Add your library to the list of non-profits to tap into the network of “incredibly skilled and passionate workers.” “Those little bits can really add up.”
Social Media for Volunteer Managing and More
In this TechSoup webinar archive, Jayne Cravens from Coyote Communications and Erin Barnhart from Effective Altruism discuss tips and strategies for effectively using social media to find, communicate with, and build community among volunteers.
How to Recruit Volunteers Using Social Media
A quick overview of the topic, including the “4 C’s of social media’s role: communicate, coordinate, celebrate, connect.”
Volunteer Voyages...Venture into Volunteering!
Here’s a great example from the Wells Branch Community Library (TX) of using a blog to recruit, connect, and celebrate the library’s volunteers.
A Consumers’ Guide to Software for Volunteer Management
TechSoup comes through again with an overview of popular tools for helping your nonprofit or library to manage volunteers.
Guide to Training Volunteers (Part A and Part B)
With the dual caveats that this is from Australia and was written in 2206, it is a comprehensive guide, covering why training for volunteers matters, what motivates them, and how to align the needs of the organization with those of the volunteer.
VOLUNTEERS IN THE LIBRARY—NOT ALL ROSES
In this climate of budget cuts and reductions in library staff hours and positions, the enlistment of volunteer help has a thorny side to it. There is an indistinct line between the role that volunteers play in augmenting library services versus replacing library staff. Any insinuation that library staff are dispensable and replaceable hurts all libraries.
Volunteers running libraries
This self-styled “wannabelibrarian” writes articulately about the dilemma: “whilst volunteers play an important role in supporting the delivery of public library services (including advocacy which is vital), they are not a viable alternative to trained, paid staff.”
The Little Library that Could
This article in American Libraries illuminates the bright side when a volunteer-run library fills a gap in library service where there is no “official” library to serve the community. “We do this selflessly and with the hope that it will make a difference in people’s lives.”
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