NORTH LIBERTY– Volunteers at the North Liberty Community Library step right up, so patrons can continue reading all about it.
April 10-16 was national volunteer week, and staff at the North Liberty library recognized all the people who come together, week after week, day in and day out, all year long, to make the library what it has become.
At a volunteer recognition luncheon April 16, Library Dee Crowner asked volunteers in attendance to introduce themselves, and say a few words about why they give their time so freely to the library.
Those few words spoke volumes about the place, the purpose and its people.
Since the North Liberty library accepts volunteers as soon as they reach fifth grade, there is a big range in ages of volunteers; from 9 to 70 years old, Crowner noted. Current middle school students, some of whom have been volunteering for two years already, said things like, “I like helping out in the community,” and “(library staff members) Emily and Tish make my Saturdays.” Adult volunteers echoed those sentiments; the library is a fun place to be; it’s important to be involved in the community; there is always something happening at the library.
And in turn, there is always work to be done to make it happen. Volunteers help with multiple tasks, such as processing new material and getting it ready for check-out, shelving books in the proper places, working the circulation desk, doing data entry, helping with community programs, and assisting in special projects.
When a volunteer has completed 600 hours, he or she gets a photograph on the “Wall of Fame.” There are currently 28 Wall of Famers on the library’s record books; that’s more than 16,000 hours of donated time.
In all, the 43 people on this year’s volunteer roster will put in a collective average of 450 to 500 hours of volunteer time each month.
At the luncheon, North Liberty City Council member Gerry Kuhl noted that 6,000-7,000 hours of volunteer time per year equates to roughly three to four full-time staff positions.
“That’s a savings of about $150,000 each year to the city, and that’s not a small amount,” said Kuhl. “Thank you to everyone who gives so generously of your time, talent and treasures. You are what helps our community grow.”
Arlene Gerard, one of the library’s longest-tenured volunteer, noted the same in her comments to the group.
“Think of all the taxpayer dollars we are saving by volunteering,” said Gerard, “and in the process, making our library one of the best libraries around.”
No matter how they begin, stories of the library volunteers tend to end happily; current staff members Melanie Stewart, Laura Kuhl and Jennie Garner all started out as volunteers. Former staff members, such as Faye Clinton and long-time Children’s Librarian Lois Hatch, stayed on as volunteers after they retired.
“At one time, all our staff had been volunteers,” Crowner said.
Perhaps they stick around because, as library volunteer Tom Vorwald put it, “The library is an important center in our city, and that’s where the action is.”
Whether keeping the action going by assisting with programming and helping patrons, or supporting the action behind the scenes as a library board or Friends of the Library member, these volunteers have it all covered.
During the April luncheon, the crowd erupted in applause at the comments of library board member Cindy Jouf.
“Everyone should volunteer here,” said Jouf. “If they want a good community, everyone should play a role. And this library is the most inclusive, most democratic place in the city of North Liberty.”
That’s definitely one for the books.