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Library Volunteer

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Think library volunteers just shelve books and glue covers back on? Think again!

Students at Riverdale School in Portland, Oregon built an award-winning website for their school library. With the guidance of their librarian, they published a number of websites. This unique project shows that libraries aren't just places to store the past. They're launching pads to the future!

So, who is a typical library volunteer? Students can usually start volunteering in senior elementary or junior high school. If you have a spare period or time after class, you can help. Besides having a strong community spirit and good communication skills, organization is also important. A love of books doesn't hurt either.

So you've taken the plunge. You're now a library technician, and you're waiting for your first assignment. What do you do?

Depending on the size of your school, you can expect to shelve books and card them. If your library is computerized, you can scan them or enter data on a computer. You may also deliver and pick up books from classes and offices, make minor repairs and talk to busy students and staff.

If you're volunteering at your community library, expect to talk to all sorts of people. Whether library patrons are looking for a picture of a Guatemalan tree frog or yesterday's newspaper (for that apple cobbler recipe), you can refer them to the right person.

At one county library, volunteer hours alone add up to more than 20 full-time staff members!

Jennifer Stewart is a high school junior and a library volunteer. "I really enjoyed working with the staff and learning library procedures, especially learning how to shelve the books," she says.

Stewart's love of books and reading prompted her teacher to look for a library internship for her.

At the Seattle Public Library, sophomore Nathan Sidles is serious about getting a jump on graduation. He's starting on his community service credits now. Volunteering after school and during off-hours, he accumulates credits toward his graduation. That's a nice bonus, considering his coordinator usually leaves snacks for him.

Nathan's spin on things? "I feel that volunteering is doing civic good," he says. "I needed something to do after school, and working at the library is the most worthy cause within walking distance."

How to Get Involved

Talk to the librarian at your school about volunteer positions.

Contact your local public library, and ask about volunteer opportunities. Be sure to check out the library's website -- many libraries provide online applications.


American Library Association


Find a Library
Search for a public library near you, and ask about volunteer opportunities
Check out the Booklovers section and the Ask a Librarian FAQs
Learn more about careers in libraries
Find various volunteer opportunities across the United States

Volunteer Match
Find volunteer listings in your area

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