Volunteering at the Public Library – Connections and Realizations

“I cannot live without books,” Thomas Jefferson once said.

Well, I cannot live without books either and a few months ago I started volunteering at the public library book store. The store is managed and staffed by volunteers. We work three-hour shifts and during my shift I feel like I am connecting with people and life. Becoming a library volunteer has reminded me of life’s lessons.

For one thing, I am touched by the generosity of strangers. Thousands of books have been donated to the library book store. In one year alone, the library received more than $124,000 worth of donated books. This is an astonishing total and reflects the generosity of the community.

Volunteering at the book store reminds me that bargain-hunting is fun. The books we sell are deeply discounted and we also have sales. You can get beautiful books for a fraction of the original price. A few weeks ago a man came into the store looking for classics. He was stocking up for a book store he plans to open. “But I won’t sell my favorites! he exclaimed.

When I am working at the store I am glad to see people still love to learn. A man asked me if the store had any books on Java. To me, as someone who is from Long Island, New York, java is coffee, and I scanned the cook book section. Then I asked, “Do you mean Java script?” Yes, that was what he wanted and the store did not have a book about it. I referred him to the main library.

Working at the store has made me realize that people are lonely. Many customers want to stay and chat and I am glad to talk with them. One woman shared stories about her family and talked about her children as if I knew them. She was in the store for more than an hour and seemed reluctant to leave.

Book store and library patronage has increased in these tough economic times. Apparently this is happening all across the country. The Billings, Montana “Gazette” newspaper makes this point in a website article, “Gazette Opinion: Recession Raises the Value of Public Libraries. According to the article, “library usage has risen as job seekers access employment resources online and at public libraries.”

Working at the book store reminds me of the existence of poverty. I put two dollars worth of pennies in the penny dish by the cash register. Minutes later, when I glanced at the dish, the pennies were gone. People also steal books, so volunteers have to be alert. Unemployed people have come in and purchased books with the idea of selling them at a higher price.

The library book store is a microcosm of society: pockets of poverty, the burden of unemployment, need for social contacts, love of learning, and the fun of bargain-hunting. Do you want to make a difference in your community? Contact the public library and ask about volunteer opportunities. Volunteering is fun and you will learn a lot about life.

Visit Your Local Public Library

There are places to go, things to do, and fun to be had at your local public library. The public library is a great place to go, if you have a lot that you want to do, and would like to stay locally, your town, city, or county has a lot to offer you, other than just books and magazines. Reading is great, and visiting your public library will give you a chance to stay current with best-sellers, as well as titles that interest you. There’s something at the library for almost everyone to enjoy, think of it as being a community center full of free activities.

Many public libraries offer summer programs, activities, speakers, and presentations. There are groups for people with interests, such as writers’ groups, crafts clubs, and cooking clubs. Some of these town centers offer museum passes for people who live in the community to use. Some offer spaces for art presentations, free plays, presentations and movies. These are full-screen presentations of popular, recent films, that you will enjoy viewing. Some of the movies are for adults, others are all-ages presentations. Some libraries even offer free, light refreshments, or a play group with activities for the kids’ movies.

There are also free or low-cost computer classes offered at many public libraries that many people should take advantage of. There are also organized bus trips to popular regional attractions hosted by many libraries that help us to save money, and make new friends.

If you like to read, there are reading clubs and book exchanges offered at the public library that will be of interest to you. These groups meet in the summer, some offer rewards for readers. Some libraries also offer reading discussion groups, where people get together and discuss a particular book title.

Many librarians are also excellent sources of information, who are able to help you on your quest for the right book, audio or video material for your personal use, interest group, or for that presentation at work.

What Do Dunkin’ Donuts and Public Libraries Have in Common?

What do Dunkin” Donuts and Public Libraries Have in Common? In these tough economic times they are both experiencing higher demand for their products and services!

It is interesting how demand for certain products and services increases in difficult times. Dunkin’ Donuts’ sales are said to be soaring at the peak of this recession and library traffic is reported to be up. Since specializing in providing services for both libraries and their multicultural customers, I have personally witnessed increased usage by both the mainstream and multicultural users and by graduating students. One way that libraries have responded is to present programs that would especially benefit these two groups.

But, unlike Dunkin” Donuts and other retailers, libraries do not benefit financially from increased traffic but, on the contrary, are seeing shrinking budgets. They continue to provide for the public however, procuring services at reduced costs. So, at this time when the public needs their help more then ever, libraries both as large as Queens Library, Mid-Manhattan Library, Broward County Library System and small rural libraries continue to provide resources that help to improve occupational skills, job retention and probably most important in these challenging times, job hunting skills.
Public libraries are what they are; they are institutions that serve the public.

No institution is positioned better today than public libraries to help people to cope with recession. To continue my comparison with tasty and affordable coffee and doughnuts, library services are comfort food for the soul and mind in tough economic times. One might ask, if the libraries are so vital, why their budgets are decreased!?