October 21-27 is National Friends of the Library Week which makes me reflect upon the time I’ve served on the Friends board. I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside many talented and dedicated volunteers and library staff who believe in the power of libraries to change lives and are working to ensure our library’s future.
I used to think about volunteering but was overwhelmed with all the choices and the worthy organizations. There are so many groups that could use my help, how to choose? How can I make a real difference? Then I heard Peg Leinenkugel speak about public service and how important it is to give back. She said she had the same dilemma and one day she just decided to start somewhere, start with one cause and do whatever small thing she could, even if it was just one hour. She found that doing that changed her life and her community.
About eight years ago I took Peg’s advice and picked something. Public libraries have been a huge part of my life: from childhood summer reading programs, to part time work at the library as a student, to attending adult reading and educational programs. So I tried a few things.
After one shift, I realized I don’t want to help with the book sale. Don’t get me wrong! I deeply appreciate all the hard work that’s put into the book sales which helps provide over $20,000 a year to enhance library services. The hours of work that go into each one and the teamwork by so many is amazing! Working with used books stirs up my allergies and I’m too tempted to bring strays home. These are the same reasons I don’t volunteer for the Humane Association.
Then one night I got a call asking if I’d be willing to serve on the Friends’ Board as secretary. What does the secretary do? Take the official notes at meetings. Anyone who has worked with me knows I can type as fast as people talk. If there are questions at work about what was said, it’s not uncommon to hear a call to ‘check Brenda’s notes’. This gig was tailor made for me! I was nervous at the first meeting but quickly realized that my fellow Board members love the library as much as I do and are working to provide the best for it.
Over time I’ve found other ways to volunteer for the Friends. Serving on the Board has also enhanced my career by giving me opportunities to develop leadership skills. But more important than what volunteering does for me, I know my efforts have helped the library that I love fulfill its mission and ensure its future.
I could go on and on but the point is, if you’ve been thinking about volunteering but aren’t sure where to start, just try something. National Friends of the Library week is a perfect time to explore all the volunteering opportunities available. Check out https://www.ecpubliclibrary.info/friends/ for all the programs and if you have more questions, don’t hesitate to contact Jamie Claudio, Friends’ administrative assistant, at email@example.com.