“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” –Groucho Marx
Inside of a library are lots of books to befriend. But what if you can’t get to a library?
Perhaps you’ve seen the bustle of activity in the Circulation Department. Volunteers check in books, sort books, put them on shelves, and pull them off shelves. In the processing department, they label, stamp and cover them. It is amazing how much volunteer-power it takes to run a community library seven days a week. Even more amazing is that a lot of library volunteer work is done outside of the library’s walls. For several of our volunteers, working for the library means taking it outside. You might say that our volunteers are literally spreading the word.
Take, for example, BookShare, our children’s outreach program. Volunteers Gary Heckendorn, Don Kelly and Roger Bates deliver books to children in daycare.
But in addition to books, BookShare volunteers deliver Storytime as well. Joan Andon, Cathy Bledsoe, Carolyn Bowden, and Barbara Craig are volunteers trained in early literacy by our youth services librarians. They provide monthly Storytimes to kids in home daycare sites for an entire year. Story time includes songs, felt board games and, of course, stories read aloud. The effect is twofold: the kids enjoy seeing a visitor from the library every month, and the caregivers see literacy education in action. They learn to carry on library-quality Storytime themselves. Why the emphasis on Storytime? Research shows that songs and stories, along with early exposure to books, are key components to young brain development–and early literacy is a big part of the library’s mission. Through BookShare’s outreach, volunteers deliver the benefits of the library by taking the library to them.
Lisa Ard and Beth Johnson do their library volunteering outside the library as well. These Adult Services Outreach volunteers bring the enjoyment of reading to patrons who can’t get to the library for it. They conduct a book group for residents of Regency Park Assisted Living and Memory Care. Each month, they bring several copies of a book carefully chosen by our librarians—some copies are in large print or audio formats so that people of varied abilities can access the literature. At the next meeting, Beth and Lisa provide reading guides and lead the book discussion, enriching the readers’ experience and making it a shared activity for the residents. It’s a priceless gift. At the meeting when the group discussed Ivan Doig’s Last Bus to Wisdom, one resident reader, who loved the book, said, “When you find a book that really moves you, it’s a treasure.” Thanks to library outreach volunteers, readers of all ages can enjoy the library’s treasures, even if they can’t get to the library.