Library Diva's Guide to Volunteering…

{June 7, 2011}   Smells like Teen Spirit!

I stopped in our TeenZone to give a pep talk on volunteering and go over the policies and procedures to our Teen Advisory Board and when I walked in the room I didn’t expect almost 20 kids in there!

I was dually impressed that all stereotypes were represented! I felt like I was in the library with a meeting of the Breakfast Club.

Its great to see such involvement and enthusiasm. It’s tough now with people with Masters degrees getting jobs that usually are reserved for teens. I know of some Ph.D’s scooping ice scream and waiting tables. Teens want to be involved and busy. What’s the old saying, Boredom breeds Destruction?

Not only will these teens be planning our teen activities, but they’ll be participating in our movie nights, wii game nights, helping with projects and shelving materials. It’s an exciting time for us and for them!

Very cool…


It’s refreshing to walk be in our lobby and have kids excited to be at the library. Nice, well behaved, quiet little kids. All in their little voices wanting books and not sure what to get. Like going to the ice scream store and not sure if you want a float, milk shake, or an ice scream cone. You want them all but know you can only get one, but here, you can get almost as many as you want and they are almost certain they’ll find something they like and can take home

Roald Dahl’s Matilda is one of my favorites little girls.

“Daddy,” she said, “do you think you could buy me a book?”
“A book?” he said. “What do you want a flaming book for?”
“To read, Daddy.”
“What’s wrong with the telly, for heaven’s sake? We’ve got a lovely telly with a twelve-inch screen and now you come asking for a book! You’re getting spoiled, my girl!”[…]
On the afternoon of the day when her father had refused to buy her the book, Matilda set out by herself to walk to the public library in the village. When she arrived, she introduced herself to the librarian, Mrs Phelps. She asked if she might sit a while and read a book.

After several months of Matilda coming to the library everyday, Mrs. Phelps told Matilda that public libraries allow people to borrow books and take them home. Matilda was thrilled.

We just never know what little “Matilda” we may have in our library but it sure is nice that we are here for her.

{May 6, 2011}   bueno trabajo

For Cinco de Mayo yesterday, in honor of Mexico’s freedom, I personally liberated a Chimichanga into my belly at lunchtime. It was actually a volunteer opportunity. A portion of my meal went to Meals on Wheels.

Lots of restaurants or “beaneries” as my dad would call them donate a proceed of the day’s (or a few hours of the day) to organizations as fund raisers. It’s a pretty easy concept. The catch is getting people to go on that day, the groups hand out a flyer or coupon and it’s presented at the cash register. An organization can make several hundred dollars in just a few hours, sit and chat with people while they eat and make it a party all in one place.

I was just going in to the local mexican restaurant to hoist that little chimichunga up on my shoulders in victory and have it do a pairs ice skating flip and twirl  straight into a pile of guacamole and pico de gallo and right in to my mouth…I didn’t expect it to become a volunteer opportunity to fund raise for a non profit.

Eat food…raise money? I like that …. 🙂

{May 5, 2011}   Mail Merge Nightmare!

Aren’t computers supposed to make our jobs easier? I have been struggling with doing labels in a mail merge for almost an hour. I dug in and was bound and determined to figure it out. I asked for help, I asked google, I called co workers who I had hoped had used it but the ones that I know use it are not here today!

I have about 24 volunteer applications that I want to send a post card to to let them know that I have their application, and what the process is from here…just a little thanks for wanting to help us, just a little we know you are out there and we’ll be in touch postcard…but I can’t figure out how to put a mail merge label on the darn thing!

It’s frustrating, but how?…oh…hello…there’s a pen…! How do I use one of those things? My hands are so used to typing, texting, swiping and touching that I’m not sure they’ll be able to form around a pen enough times to hand write 24 addresses…

Could I actually be giving a “thank you” post card a human touch? What a concept. Maybe my mail merge ignorance was meant to be…

{May 2, 2011}   watching the clock

I have a volunteer who you would think his task is watching the clock to see when his hour is up from volunteering. Today he gave me a 6 minute blow by blow of what time it was. It’s 12:34, it’s 12:40, it’s 12:46, it’s time to leave.

Since when have we become so stuck to time clocks when we work? I’m reading a book right now that says we should go to work as if we are millionaires and that we have chosen the job we are going to just because we want to. What a great perspective. When I started looking at my job like that, it really started to change things. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s just that I’m starting to care less…which is a little different than overall apathy.

If I had a million dollars but I’m choosing to come to work to do this job, what are the changes?  I don’t grudge as much, I don’t waste my time on others  as much, I do what tasks I want to do for that day and work on the others another day for when I’m in a better frame of mind. I’m not as stressful it seems, but I still feel the negative energy of others and that you can never rid yourself of  unfortunately.They can’t help it, they don’t have a million dollars like I do…

When my volunteer kept telling me the countdown, I just kept saying, yep~ six more minutes keep working…! I’m also tied to a time clock, but I’m not all obsessed with it like I was when I had to start clocking in and out. I’m just going to do what I’m going to do and keep plugging away at my work.

I have a million dollars…remember?

We all know my fascination with Abe Lincoln. Friday afternoon, I just needed a little break from my office so I went to our Children’s Department to look at the picture books. I could spend hours in there. I didn’t… but I could have. I sat on the floor looking for something artistic and fun and funny to get me through the afternoon. Better to read a quick book then to eat a Snickers bar  and there I saw it… a book about Lincoln.

It was called “The Boy Who Looked Like Lincoln”. I flipped through it, instantly knew I’d like it, grabbed it and took it up to the solitude and safety of my sanctum. my office. my consultation room.

There, in the privacy of my office, door closed..I giggled and smiled. It’s probably the funniest children’s book I’ve read in a long long time. Sometimes we need simple little things to give us a break from what we deal with in our lives. Life can be exhausting. Our energy is sucked out of us from our own stress and other people’s stress.

Go for a walk, get some fresh air, take a cat nap, read a children’s book. I wanted the Snickers, but I chose the book and I’m glad I did. Not too often after I eat a Snickers do I reflect and smile about it later after I’ve gobbled it down. With this little picture book I did think about it throughout the day. I checked it out and even took it home and looked at it and laughed.

Ahhh…it’s the little things…

It’s Earth Day and my small little community is in a Flood Alert. The rain rain rain came down down down. I actually think I saw Pooh Bear bottom up floating by my office window in his Honey Jar.

I was bummed. Even our Earth Day people took to the high ground off the town square. They were supposed to be handing out tree saplings and splitting hostas. Maybe they did and I just missed them, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they took cover from the down pour. Gardeners and Earthy People are hearty folk, but even they are susceptible to the sniffle, then again, I’m sure they can find some sort of herb concoction to mend them.

I think I’m going to do some volunteer stuff with them this spring. They contacted me and are doing some clean ups around town. Now’s the time when you really notice litter and junk. Snow is gone, and leaves haven’t filled out the bushes yet so you can really see the plastic cups, straws, lids, and junk that strewn all over the place.

My co-worker the other day was so frustrated with our parking lot, I saw him out my window with a little grabber and bucket cleaning up the joint. He saw a need and went out there and took care of it.

If we all did that, wouldn’t it be a better place?

{April 20, 2011}   my odd little adopted family

I have an odd little family photo framed and tucked away in my office. I have photos of my kids (yes, the diva has divas), my love, my parents, my siblings, my friends, and my office mate (who has saved me from countless melt downs, so she deserves to be up there with those close to me) and this very odd, strange, family photo that you see here.

Who are they? Who cares! Surrounded by the real people in my life, they blend in. As people are asking and looking at my photos, they come to that one and really are speechless in that they don’t know what to say. I casually wave it off as it’s just Gramma Millie and move on with the discussion. During conversation, their eyes are drawn to the photo, because I treated it as if  everything was normal when in fact they are anything but normal!

Are they for real? What’s up with that little guy on the end? Isn’t that a freakishly large head on Gramma Millie? That darn ole’ Uncle Pete looks pretty angry…

My girlfriend came to my office one day to visit and she saw it and I told her the story of how I “found” that photo of my family in our Genealogy Room (when in fact it’s on a website called Awkward Family Photos) and framed it. She laughed and wanted a copy of it, so for her birthday I printed one for her, framed it and it now sits proudly on her desk next to her kids and husband for those to come in and ask about….and wonder…

I adore my odd little adopted family. I have no idea who they are, but they make me smile and they make things interesting for me and I like that too.

{March 31, 2011}   Blind Faith…

I was doing a volunteer orientation the other day. We are all giggling and laughing and getting to know each other and it was fun. Before the tour, I began to take the volunteers’ photos for their name badges. Volunteers love their name badges. It’s their official step into our world. Don that badge and you’re all business.

I lined them up mug shot style and snapped away with my cell phone. A couple were blurry and we had to redo a few. I’ve only had 2 in the past 4 years not want their photo taken. Neither fell into the usual categories of those that did not want their photos taken. Not Amish, Not Vampire, Not without a soul I even point-blank asked if they were in the Witness Protection Program and they said no to all of the above. They just wanted their name on their badge. Fair enough. No Problem.

When I got to Darla, I snapped and it was a smidge blurry but nothing that would be noticeable. I had her look at it to agree and she said she couldn’t see it and she was fine with whatever I thought. I thought it was fine so I moved on to the next gal.

When I had finished, I told them they could leave their belongings and I’d lock up the room and we’d all come back to do our training schedules. It was close quarters all getting out of the door and I was busy locking it when I turned and felt a “whop” on my lower calf. I turned back around and realized that it was from Darla. It was her cane. She was blind.

My first thought was to apologize to her in hopes I didn’t make her feel uncomfortable in asking if she approved of her badge photo-which I did immediately. No big deal she said. My second thought, which I kept to myself was…how can a blind person volunteer in the library?

At the end of the orientation, I went up to her and asked her what she felt she could do for us and what she wanted to get out of volunteering with us. She wanted to promote library service for the blind or visually impaired. Books on Tapes, Books on CD, Talking Books, directional information, books clubs. She just wants to help. She wants to be out in the community doing something. She wants to be valued.

Mark Twain said “Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see”.

I see her doing some good for us. I have faith in her.


{March 11, 2011}   Fox in Socks…

“Fox in Socks” is the worst story ever written.  The other night, I met with a group of daisy girl scouts and we talked about the importance of volunteering, I gave them little junior volunteer badges, had them shelve board books, we took a tour through circulation, I had them work the conveyor belts, we went downstairs into our secret lower level we have for expansion and back up to our meeting room.

20 minutes left…ugh! The troop leader engaged them in conversations about what their favorite books were. So many great books and stories that I’ve never heard of…something about your momma being a llama…a chic named Junie B. Jones, something about cowboys….and my favorite Amelia Bedelia…

I snuck out and asked the librarians what would be a good book to read to the girls to kill some times…they had a Dr. Seuss display so I grabbed 2 books. Wocket in my Pocket and Fox in Socks. Melissa said, Fox in Socks…for sure…!

Ok…I trusted her, I figured she knew what was up…I grabbed it and ran in to the program room. Little did I know that Melissa must have hated my guts. Who would recommend that book to read to 15 daisies if they didn’t like you…

My mouth grew numb, my brain hurt, my eyes began to twitch….

That book was horrible, sir

Deplorable, sir

despicable and diabolical, sir

…and so was Melissa for suggesting it and then grinning when I came out all in a fluster, hair straggly and eye’s bugged out. She’s on my list…she better beware, sir…

et cetera
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