Recruit a Volunteer
Are you having trouble finding a volunteer matching program or a volunteer listing service in your community? Do you prefer to use your own method to search for a volunteer? A good option is to write a volunteer job description and post it in your library or community.
Post your call for volunteers
When you have written your volunteer job description, the trick is to get it out into the community to places where people with both technical skills and a desire to work in a library setting will find it. Below is a partial list of places to try.
Corporate volunteer programs
Many corporations have bulletin boards to post volunteer opportunities. You can find tech-savvy volunteers in most companies, not just in companies that specialize in technology. The Human Resources department is the first place to contact.
Schools and community colleges
Many vocational schools and community colleges will post your volunteer job description in a career center or a departmental bulletin board. Some professors may announce the opportunity in their classes. Try contacting departments related to technology, such as engineering and computer science.
Ask your colleagues
Where do other libraries in your community go for technical volunteers?
Ask other volunteers
Many times current volunteers will be the best source for new volunteers. They may know of someone, or they can tell you where to post a job description.
More and more, people are using listservs to communicate about community needs and events. Ask around about the listservs people in your community belong to, especially listservs which people with computer skills might use. Find a person who belongs to the list to post your job description for you.
User groups are groups that meet either in person or online to discuss different topics, including computers and technology. People who participate in these groups may be good volunteers. Look for them in your local computer newspaper if you have one, or online.
Newspapers and newsletters
You can list your volunteer job description free of charge in many local newspapers, P.T.A newsletters, or other community publications.
If you are stuck, you might want to go through the questions in Your Circle of Resources, a guided exploration of volunteer resources in your community.
Screen potential volunteers
You may be tempted to welcome with open arms the first volunteer who shows up. Remember that you are going to invest time and energy managing them, and you are going to entrust them with care of your computer systems. It is crucial to screen potential volunteers by interviewing them first.
You will even want to check their references as you would with a consultant. Think seriously about whether they will be a good match for your library's needs. Some questions to consider when interviewing volunteers include:
What skills will the volunteer need to accomplish the task?
Ask about the volunteer's previous experience with the technology with which you want them to work. Bear in mind that some volunteers can learn skills as they go, especially if they have other technical expertise or are taking a class. It may be worth the risk to use a volunteer without expertise in a particular technology if he or she is serious about learning.
Is the volunteer willing to work in a library context?
Many volunteers may be coming from a corporate environment. Ask if the volunteer has any experience working in a library. If not, familiarize them with your work environment, including your budget, staff skill level, and atmosphere. Ask if they would be comfortable working in an environment with fewer resources than they are used to. Are they willing to help you reach technology compromises that work, and not necessarily recommend the latest, most expensive system?
Will the volunteer communicate clearly about the work they do?
Can the volunteer explain technical issues in a way that you understand? If they use a word you don't know, will they define it clearly? Are they willing to report back regularly on their progress, and document their work?
Is the volunteer reliable?
Make sure the volunteer is willing to make a specific time commitment and finish the project before the deadline you give. Checking their references is the best way to see if they are likely to follow through.
Once you have taken these steps and found a volunteer with whom you are comfortable working, you still have some work to do!
This work is licensed under a  Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License