Library Diva's Guide to Volunteering…

{February 27, 2011}   Am I essential?

Well…It’s hard to believe, and I don’t want to believe it but my library is heading down the road riddled with financial pot holes that so many other libraries in the United States have swerved and have been damaged by.

We’re in a hiring freeze and determining what existing positions are essential. I’ve always known that I provide an outstanding service, but am I essential? I keep people from losing their homes, becoming evicted, out of jail, I help people get jobs, made to feel valued and needed, provide opportunities to share skills, to take stress off of staff, and many other things, but am I essential? …wait a minute, I’ve been told it’s my position and not me as a person that makes my job. Let me separate that, is my position essential?

What if…my position… was on the line? Would I rally all the hundreds of people who I have helped in the past 4  years in this position and ask them to go to bat for me if it came down to it?

I actually asked that of one of my volunteers turned friend…and she point-blank said no. She told me no one would care if the service I provided was gone. Shorten the hours and reduce the computers at the library and then people would care.


I sat at my desk and pondered that one for a long minute. Then, my phone rang and it was the Department Head of our Circulation Department.

“We’re in a hiring freeze and we need you. We’re going to need long-term volunteers to get us through.”

I wanted to cry. Instead I said, “I’m on it. Everything will be fine…we’ll get through this….”

I’m hopeful we will…


Ros Demaree says:

YOU are absolutely essential, and your position is, too, even if the pwoers that be decide to eliminate it. Take advice from me personal experience: Don’t let this become about you. It’s the way things are today. It hurts — a lot — but good things lie ahead.

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