Volunteers–What We Want, Part 2


Pictured above top (l) Archive I in DC, middle (l) Archive II in College Park, bottom (l) Shuttle at Archive II, (r) box containing typed decklogs for the USS Midway 1945-Mar 1946.

After I moved to Central Virginia, I was still able to volunteer for the Midway Library remotely. My shipmates on the Midway arranged a schedule where I could remotely log into the library before the ship opened (thanks to the 3 hours difference between the East Coast and the West Coast). I could access the automated library system to catalog (if they sent me a list of titles ahead of time and were willing to answer questions about titles I was uncertain about), prepare bibliographies, and research a chapter about the Vought FU4U Corsair for a forthcoming book the library is going to publish about planes that flew from the Midway over her almost 47 year career.

Living 2-1/2 hours south of DC, it was feasible to drive to Northern Virginia, catch the Metro into the District, take a free shuttle from the Archives downtown to the Archives in College Park, MD, and spend the day copying Deck Logs onto a thumbdrive.  (I usually combined the trip with an opportunity to see old friends and visit old haunts from the years I lived  and worked in the DC area.)  I upload the thumbdrive to an external drive on the Midway when I got home.  I have been doing this monthly.  I have also taken pictures of battleship presentation silver at the Smithsonian.

Take away four–Think outside the box–does a volunteer have to be onsite to provide value to the organization?  Is there anything the volunteer can do from home or some other location that would be beneficial to both the volunteer and the organization?  Possibilities include remote access, research, outreach, marketing, or providing a service on site (eg. a classroom, a senior center, a hospital) as appropriate to the organization.  Many organizations want the volunteer to start onsite so that both parties know the volunteer’s interests and capabilities and whether the volunteer is a good match for the organization.

Miller Center frontOnce a week, I volunteer for the Scripp’s Library at the Miller Center of Public Affairs for UVA.  I copy catalog books using a Mac laptop and the Koha Integrated Libary System.  It is the first time I have used  an Apple computer or the Koha open source ILS (so you can teach an old librarian new tricks).  I copy cataloging records that have previously been created by the Library of Congress or the University of Virginia.  The solo librarian had to get permission from the Volunteer Co-ordinator for me to be able to help since most of their volunteers are students. (However, most students are not professional librarians with over 30 years of experience who also know how to catalog.)   The work is pleasant but I have been introduced to very few people and mostly sit in the library in a corner, cataloging the books.  I am regularly told how much I am helping and the empty shelf that was previously full of book donations indicate the progress that has been made in the past year.

Take away five–Make the volunteer feel welcome and a part of the team.  Let them know about what is going on in the larger organization. Thank them for the work they are doing  and let them know it does make a difference.

To be continued:  What an organization wants in a volunteer.

9 thoughts on “Volunteers–What We Want, Part 2”

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