Thursday, January 31, 2008

The More Rational Me On Volunteerism

My bitter post from a couple of days ago was fun to write, but afterwards I did feel a little guilty. Not about bagging on this one particular person (or series of people even), but about making myself seem unappreciative of people who do volunteer with more genuine selflessness.
Libraries, like most other large public institutions, do rely on the work of volunteers for a number of things. What first comes to mind are the Friends of the Library group. Most libraries have them. They are more or less the fundraising arm of the library. A public library is a non-profit organization. As such, we depend on government funding and donations. Our Friends raise money for the library year round with their little used book store (stocked with books that people donate.) You look at this little enterprise and wonder how much they could possibly earn selling books at, like, .25 each. Okay, some things are more, but you get the idea... Let me tell you, they do pretty well and then they give us the money! These mostly retired people go through the boxes and bags of donations, sorting and pricing materials, store backstock, and stock their bookstore. They spend their time on that, plus they man the bookstore itself, usually about 25 hours per week or so. It is all volunteers! Now someone like Miss Thang from my mean post probably wouldn't find any of that work particularly "stimulating", but our Friends raise thousands of dollars per year. Then, they donate it to the library as needed, for programming, materials, databases, etc. So, those are some rockin' volunteers.
See now? I can be sweet as well as sour :-)


AlienCG said...

But going through boxes and pricing things isn't at all glamorous. It doesn't provide the exposure to the rest of the world that says, "Look! I'm volunteering."

Those people behind the scenes are the real workhorses and deserve the most thinks for their time.

evil-e said...

Volunteers usually do so because they want to. In most cases they do not pick and choose what it they will be doing, they just do.

I was not bagging on volunteers the day either, just playing.

Churlita said...

I knew where you were coming from. Sometimes venting about the one jerk, makes it seem that you're dogging out the whole group.

Tara said...

This makes me want to go to a library booksale, now. I haven't been to one in ages!

laura b. said...

AlienCG: Right! Volunteering, like most work, is rarely red carpet worthy, but it is important.

Evil-E: I know you were kidding :-) You are possibly not as evil as you'd have us believe...

Churlita: That is it exactly. And so I had to give some credit where credit is due to make myself feel better.

Tara: Library booksales are awesome. I have picked up way too many good things at them.