I’d never thought that I would one day be in the position to “people-manage,” but here I am! Working in a school library, things pile up fast and you learn to appreciate any extra help you can get! At the school where I currently work, we have great parent volunteers who commit themselves to spending at least an hour a week helping us with everything from shelving and checking in/out books to pulling books for class study units. And guess who’s partially in charge?
I’ve learned how to “people-manage” on the spot from the experience of working with our parent volunteers. However, this post is a great source of information–a reminder (as well as a source of new information) to appreciate the volunteers who come in as people who free themselves to help out, and not just extra hands. Thanks Hack Library!
Originally posted on Hack Library School:
Hello Hack Library School readers! I’m excited to introduce myself with a topic very near and dear to my heart: managing volunteers.
In 2011, after finishing my MA, I found myself at a bit of a crossroads and needed to do something different and interesting while I figured out what was next. So I started a year-long AmeriCorps placement with an arts education nonprofit, helping administer three volunteer programs. I did everything from the nitty-gritty of event RSVPs and answering questions about the application process to big-picture reevaluations of the entire volunteer recruitment and screening system. Although none of these skills are taught in my MLIS program, I can already tell that they’ll be among the most valuable skills in my professional toolkit.
Much of the recent debate about unpaid internships can also be applied to volunteering; it can provide valuable experience for volunteers and build capacity for organizations. Plus, it often just feels really good. But when volunteering becomes an expectation or prerequisite for moving ahead in a field, or when administrators use volunteers to replace professional staff, thorny ethical issues arise. Despite these concerns, though, volunteering remains an important part of our civic and cultural landscape, and my guess is that it’s here to stay.