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Volunteers in Library

Page history last edited by Jane McManus 9 months, 2 weeks ago

The following was gleaned from some PUBYAC contributors. If you're a member check out the archives for 6-21-2012. This was also a hot topic for Storytime Underground FB group, 5-2018. Thanks, to all, for your ideas.

See also: Thank You Gift for Teen Volunteers

               Volunteers--NOT specifically related to SRC, (more for school libraries), BUT still good info.


We made a list of things that volunteers can always do so that we could refer to it even when we were busy.

  • Shelving (almost anything except non-fiction)
  • Prep craft materials for storytime
  • STEM/STEAM partners for specific programs
  • Breaking down Legos, and sorting them

  • Making decorations for the library
  • Creating book displays
  • Writing book reviews
  • Put together welcome bags for new patrons
  • Wash the storytime toys
  • Wipe down the board books
  • Wipe down shelves, tables, chairs and computers
  • Shelf-reading
  • Sorting and condensing carts of materials for shelving
  • Sorting colored scrap paper
  • Cutting white scrap paper
  • Inventory (changing new items to regular; number of checkouts for book weeding)
  • Creation of felt board stories (this requires a little bit of training)
  • Summer reading program (put together program bags, cut paper for reading booklets, etc).
  • Brainstorm and create programs with the librarians
  • Help set up rooms for programming or help clean up after programs.
  • Be a greeter for programs
  • Help out at book sales
  • Tutor for younger children for homework help program
  • Sharpen pencils, check markers and papers at computer stations
  • Blogging and Social Media gurus
  • Weed flower beds
  • Pick up trash on outside of building
  • Around storytimes the picture book section tends to get ravaged, so it's nice to have a volunteer who can help clear up books and straighten shelves and chairs.
  • Pull together 5 books on a theme or subject and you can put a rubber band around them with a tag "Dinosaurs" or "Horses" or "Space" for busy parents.
  • We also have a wipe board on which we write anything that is high-priority; or any tasks outside the usual, like filling water balloons for our summer picnic.
  • The other departments know they can let us know if they have a job for the volunteers as well. 
  • Find out where his interests are and see if he can help contribute to a specific program.

***Just be sure you're not overstepping, and assigning the volunteers duties a paid employee should be compensated for performing.


The list is endless, if you allow yourself to think of the volunteer as a resource, not a burden. Every task is worthwhile. Even something as simple as cleaning the board books helps keep our collection fresh and checkout worthy.


We do have a policy that during exceptionally busy times if the library staff cannot direct the volunteers we ask them to come back another time.


Each volunteer will have different abilities to accommodate.
We treat volunteering like a job. Because we deal with court appointed volunteers, we require EVERYONE to do a formal intake interview. This weeds out people who are not really serious about volunteering, and also ones who need 10 hours RIGHT NOW.
What also helps is that I limit who can do what hours:

  •  Court appointed: 6 hr/day, any day we are open.
  •  High school and older: 2 hr/day, 3 days/wk
  •  Under high school: 1 hr/day, 3 days/wk (only if they have a specific need like Confirmation, or School Projects)

We also limit when the volunteers can show up. For example, they are required to put themselves on the schedule at least the day before. This allows my staff to plan work for everyone ahead of time.

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