Inclusive Library Volunteer Programs

Libraries have made great strides in promoting volunteer engagement and working with highly skilled volunteers. We thank our colleagues at the Get Involved project, and the rich resources available at their clearinghouse, for supporting the foundations of this work, promoting the value of service in public libraries, and contributing to the quality of life in our communities. (Did you know, for example, that in 2019-20 library volunteers helped over 13,000 California adults build basic literacy skills and that the value of volunteer time in adult literacy programs in California’s libraries was over $13.6 million?)

When folks picture volunteering at libraries, they may imagine the same sort of populations—namely, little old white-haired ladies—that have bedeviled libraries and librarians in the popular imagination. Moving forward, how can libraries ensure their volunteer programs reflect the assets and diversity of their communities?

Two recent programs, available on-demand for three months only in CALL Academy, highlighted ways that libraries can re-examine their volunteer recruitment and messaging. Reconsider your assumptions in Eight Strategies for Creating a More Inclusive Volunteer Program. Bring copies of your library’s volunteer publicity and marketing to Crafting Inclusive Volunteer Recruitment Messages, and consider ways to invite a broader volunteer pool through your wording, images, and more.

Two more live opportunities are coming up: a June 3 webinar on No “One Right Way”: Creating New Systems for Volunteer Engagement, featuring insights from listening sessions with BIPOC volunteers about how to make volunteering more inclusive and equitable.

Finally, a few lucky Californians will be able to attend In with the Bold: The 2021 Virtual Volunteer Engagement Leadership Conference from the Minnesota Association of Volunteer Administration. CALL is offering a limited number of seats to this pathbreaking three-day conference. Interested? Find out more and register now!

If you’re just getting started with a volunteer program, or want a refresher, don’t forget our comprehensive post on Volunteer Engagement Strategies, and the upcoming May 27 webinar, Recruiting, Hiring, Orienting, Maintaining, and Saying Goodbye to Library Volunteers.

Inclusive Library Volunteer Programs