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Mr. Mustache, another librarian blog

I am a reference librarian with experience in both the public and state government fields. I am doing this on a whim, sort of like the mustache I grew when I was 19 and still have in my 50's.

Location: New Jersey, United States

I am a state worker and a librarian.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Volunteering 1

I have a few essays on volunteering. This, from the vault, is my first.

Public libraries, like hospitals, museums, and other agencies, rely on volunteers. There are volunteers who do their work faithfully and silently and deserve all the accolades. However volunteers should be selected with care and be treated with a certain level of firmness when needed. Because their skills and schedules come as a ready-made package, they pose some disadvantages as well as advantages. Here are some of the problem volunteers you will encounter in your career.

1) The volunteer who parks his/her car in a bad spot. Since the volunteer is giving freely of her time, he/she feels that one little perk, free parking, should be theirs. The attempt to accommodate this space sometimes results in staff members being “boxed in” or sanitation trucks being unable to pick up the trash.

2)The volunteer who comes in at a bad time. The staff member has a number of tasks that Sarah could do if only she could come in on Fridays. Instead Sarah comes in like clockwork on Monday morning, when there are no obvious tasks or staff to get her started on anything. Many a Library Director on an appointment filled Monday morning has fumbled around trying to find a volunteer something to do.

3)The volunteer who cannot shelve, use computers, answer a switchboard, or photocopy. Often this volunteer is given tasks like book selection since that is a task he/she can do while sitting at a desk.

4)The observant volunteer. This is the volunteer who likes to bring to the attention of the staff what are essentially minor problems that the staff has already noticed but has not gotten around to fixing.

5)The talkative volunteer. Volunteers do not wish to chat with each other. They prefer to talk to the employees. Often a tired staff member retires to the staff room meeting a volunteer who wants to pass the time of day when the staffer wanted to take a nap.

6)The volunteer who comes in on time. Volunteers and part timers sometimes make the mistake of arriving precisely when assigned, while the staff people they are working with tend to come in late. A children’s Librarian who sneaks in at 9:20 does not like having her volunteer wondering around the library at 9:10 in the morning asking if the Children's Librarian has come in yet.

7)The volunteer who makes too many copies.

8)The volunteer who drinks the last cup of coffee in the staff room.


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