Friday, March 13, 2009
Spare time? Gleason welcomes volunteers
These days, more of us are looking forward to having extra hours on our hands, whether due to slowing contract work, company lay-offs, or retirements. Time can hang heavy if you’re used to a routine, barely know who your neighbors are, and are missing the chance to use skills other than those required to do the daily Sudoku. But your skills are in demand right here in town. By volunteering, you have the chance to make connections, hone skills and develop references to keep your résumé alive until the economy turns around. Over the next weeks we will look at volunteer opportunities, starting this week with the Gleason Public Library.
Library Director Angela Mollet welcomed me to her office last Tuesday morning, saying, “We enjoy having volunteers. It’s fun.” She adds, “I like the diversity of ages and interests. There are few public gathering places in town, and this is a great place to meet people.” If you’re not familiar with the library, it is a very social place far removed from the mausoleums of old. Many visitors stay awhile to chat with friends they run into or with the friendly people behind the desk.
Many skills needed
The library has opportunities for volunteers with a variety of skills, from fundraising to public relations to programming. The greatest need is for shelvers, a job that offers flexibility of hours, the satisfaction of establishing order, and a chance to become knowledgeable about what’s new in books, movies and music. “With the continuous increase in circulation and use of libraries we have found lately that we have had to call in extra volunteers or ask people to come in multiple times a week to keep up,” says Mollet. “In most cases, our shelving volunteers commit to once a week for an hour and a half to two hours.”
Library is a social center
Verna Gilbert has volunteered as a shelver and shelf organizer at the library since her retirement nine years ago. “I love books and it’s always fun,” she says. “The library is a very comfortable place with a really good staff.” It’s also a center of social activity: “I’ve run into people I haven’t seen in years.” She recommends the job to anyone who likes books and has good knees. “There’s a lot of squatting,” she laughs.
“It’s an idea environment,” says Mollet, noting the library provides many opportunities for discussion and creativity. Programming is an area where volunteers are critical, as the library has greatly expanded its offerings for all ages. Adult Talk Time, Writers Only Writing, and other programs are entirely volunteer-run. Large programs like the recent Community Read required volunteers to coordinate, promote and run all aspects of the event. A lecture series on the presidents is being offered this month, and Mollet says she is currently looking for volunteers for the summer reading program for young children. The library has recently added an e-newsletter and could use people versed in communications and public relations.
Mollet recommends the Friends of the Gleason Public Library (FOGPL), which uses volunteer support for major events such as the potluck supper and the book sale on Old Home Day in July.
The Gleason Library just received a small grant to look closely at volunteer management, “We have more volunteers than ever and need to find better ways of using even more,” says Mollet, noting that anyone with ideas or input should contact her directly. The staff will be soliciting opinions and examining the volunteer programs at other libraries.
Mollet now spends much time interviewing volunteers and trying to find ways to use volunteer resources efficiently. Many skills can be useful, even gardening or transporting recyclables to the Transfer Station. Mollet notes the library can be very flexible, with hours six days a week, including evenings, that will accommodate a work or job-hunting schedule. Volunteers of all ages are needed, including high school students and senior tax workers. Many who work at the library end up staying far beyond their hours. “Once a relationship is established it can be very rewarding,” she concludes. Says Gilbert, “It’s work that needs to get done, and is very well appreciated” by the library staff. “I feel I help to save the town money.”
For more information, visit www.gleasonlibrary.org/get_involved.htm or call Angela Mollet at 1-978-369-4898. Those interested in shelving should contact Marty Seneta at the library. Kathleen Ryder Hauser and Seema Peterson are the organizers of the book sale for the FOGPL. ∆
© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito