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I’m Not Actually a Librarian: Volunteer Coordinator

by on January 25, 2016

As dynamic community centers, public libraries rely on a lot of diverse positions for support. This post looks at a job that doesn’t require an MLIS but is just as crucial to the system as your librarians. Volunteer coordinators are in charge of recruiting, interviewing, approving, and scheduling all nonpaying help that lets you stage bigger programs, concentrate on the non-routine parts of your job, and build deeper connections with your patrons.

What Exactly Do They Do?
Here are a few examples of what volunteer coordinators do to help the library run smoothly:

Recruit volunteers. The most obvious job of the volunteer coordinator is also the most difficult. Not only do they have to find people who are willing to spend free time working for no pay on tasks that are often repetitive and possibly physically straining, but they also have to be able to read personalities well enough to match their recruits with the best-suited departments. This requires exceptional organization and people skills, as well as good communication with all of their coworkers to keep up with the needs of individual sections and branches.

Field volunteer requests. Related to recruiting, volunteer coordinators also exercise good judgement, tact, and multi-level scheduling to handle requests from other organizations who want to volunteer as groups or individuals who have to complete required volunteer hours for court or school. The coordinator must know how many hours a group or individual needs and whether there will be enough work for them to be truly useful by their deadline.

Organize orientations and celebrations. Volunteers need to know what they’re doing and that they’re appreciated when they do it. The volunteer coordinator handles both events, running orientations on a regular basis to make sure all volunteers can start with the necessary knowledge, throwing annual parties to make them feel appreciated, and presenting awards as individuals meet service milestones.

Regularly check and record progress. Tracking individual volunteers’ hours and their fit with their specific department takes exceptional organizational skills. The volunteer coordinator can tell at a glance who has passed a service goal, who needs to move to a different area, and how to diplomatically let them know when things aren’t working out.

Organize and track employee volunteer opportunities. Volunteer coordinators are also in charge of any volunteer opportunities sponsored by their employer for fellow employees. Along with advertising the information to coworkers, they connect with other volunteer coordinators at participating venues and keep track of any hours their colleagues might log. Volunteer coordinators are multi-faceted employees who juggle many different talents to merge the library and community in mutual help.

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