Thursday, April 30, 2015
Care and feeding of volunteers
The word has come down from on high in my library system. Fortunately that is not a very long way to travel, just a very short, steep pitch. And the word is about our volunteers.
We have a lot of volunteers working at my library. Some are good, some are not, but it doesn't matter a lot either way because most of their work is in the more bulk categories. I know some of the volunteer's names well. Some volunteer's names I should know but don't and have to ask my co-workers "What's his name again?" before I slowly begin to forget it again. But there is no reason I should know all of their names. Too many come and go in too many ways and at too many times for me to know that.
But the word is that the volunteers are precious and valuable. The word is that the volunteers often work here to be part of a community. The word is that many volunteers seek to be part of our socially maladjusted library world.
Lo, the word is, from on high, that we are to, indeed, treat the volunteers as staff.
I feel all kinds of different ways about all kinds of different volunteers, but that, treating the volunteers like staff, is more unkind than I am willing to be.