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Insider Article [December 2012] [12/04/12] (Volunteer Match and Volunteer Engagement IG)
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Get Involved: Powered by Your Library and the CLA Volunteer Engagement Interest Group

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The Volunteer Engagement Interest Group maintains a great partnership with the Get Involved project of the California State Library.  If you’re starting a volunteer program, taking one over, supervising volunteers, or otherwise rely on volunteers in your library, the Volunteer Engagement Interest Group is for you, and so is the Get Involved project, and Volunteer Match!

Throughout 2012, regional peer networks were established to assist libraries in leveraging and growing engaging volunteer programs, and the Volunteer Engagement Interest Group is a natural way to promote these efforts—informing CLA members about exciting opportunities and ensuring that all California libraries make use of available expertise.

Get Involved: Powered By Your Library is a California statewide initiative designed to expand the visibility and contributions of skilled volunteers in public libraries. With tens of thousands of Californians—baby boomers and the generations that follow—seeking new ways to use their skills and experience to make a difference in their community, public libraries are positioned to engage this talent to get some great work done, and to develop advocates and supporters of their services.

In a recent survey of volunteers who found their library volunteer opportunity on VolunteerMatch, 67% said they had told friends about what the library has to offer, and 44% introduced friends to volunteer opportunities at the library. 11% had given money to support the library, 7% attended a rally or other meeting in support of the library, and 9% individually spoke to one or more local decision makers on behalf of the library.

Our partnership with VolunteerMatch is yielding terrific results. With 85% of California public libraries currently participating in the project, at any given time there are about 700 library volunteer opportunities posted on volunteermatch.org and, statewide, we get an average of 750 “referrals” per month—i.e., when a volunteer refers him/herself for a particular volunteer position from the VolunteerMatch site.

Libraries have been successful recruiting for a multitude of skilled volunteer positions:  from Event Planner to Photographer; from ESL Conversation Circle Leader to Graphic Designer; from Lego Club Leader to Homework Club Coordinator, and more!  Volunteer position descriptions for these and many other opportunities are being stored and made available in the new Get Involved “Clearinghouse” —a searchable database that includes not only volunteer job descriptions, but also sample policies, handbooks, training materials, photos, and more.  Find it at the “Resource & Training Center” tab on the Get Involved website: library.ca.gov/lds/getinvolved.html.

Free, upgraded, VolunteerMatch accounts are available for every public library in the state, and VolunteerMatch has developed a branded “hub” site that potential volunteers can get to right from their library’s website. Our Get Involved “widget,” once posted on the library’s website, drives potential volunteers to our “hub” site where they get immediate display of the library volunteer opportunities you’ve posted.

If you need help finding the person(s) in your library who are involved, have questions about how it works, or want to set up your special upgraded account, please contact Carla Lehn at the state library: clehn@library.ca.gov or (916) 653-7743.

NOTE: If your library has a VolunteerMatch account that is not associated with the “Get Involved” initiative, you’ll also need to contact Carla to get it linked to our special project account and to receive the free upgrade.

As volunteers become more critical to California’s libraries, and retiring professionals want to give back to the institutions they love, we invite CLA members to turn to the Volunteer Engagement Interest Group to continue the conversations, learning and sharing. More workshops to come! If you would like to get involved with the Volunteer Interest Group, please contact Hillary Theyer at hillarytheyer@gmail.com

Carla Library, Library Programs Consultant
California State Library

Hillary Theyer, Chair
Volunteer Engagement Interest Group