I am a huge supporter of volunteering at the Multnomah County Library. I originally started 2 years ago at the Friends of the Library Book Store in the central lobby. Although I realize the money raised from their store benefits the library system, I wanted something more hands-on at a local level. So I am now a Branch Assistant at the Kenton library, helping to shelve books and process holds. While volunteers are asked to send patrons with questions to a librarian, many people have requests or comments that any volunteer can help with, fostering a more friendly atmosphere for families. While it can be a workout, I have greatly enjoyed my time. The staff is ecstatic to have help, the patrons are for the most part warm to volunteers and, as most of the books to be shelved are in the childrens area, you get to interact with tons of great kids. Also this summer I was a Summer Reading Program liason, assisting the kids turning in their game pieces and helping them and their parents choose appropriate prizes.
Beyond Your Vote: Volunteer to Support the Library
There are many different volunteer opportunities at the library that might be more in the spirit of helping the community.
Go to http://www.multcolib.org/vol/opportunities_iframe.html to see what listings are available at your local library. The one that stands out most to me is being a Book Talker, which is an outreach program going to elementary school classrooms and reading sections from books that might interest the children, and getting books to kids that may not have the ability to visit a library. Other positions directly helping with the public include: Teen Lounge Assistant, helping oversee the teen space; LEARN Tutor, helping adults with low reading levels; Talk Time Facilitator, helping non-English speakers practice conversation; Teen Council; and Chess Instructor.
There are also many other services at the library that serve the public, and may be useful to our Capstone community partners. Go to http://www.multcolib.org/services/ to see all of the services that the library provides. Most are more geared for adults and/or proficient readers, but there are many that are outreach programs to help kids in the community become more involved with the library and become better readers. The School Corps (under the Services For Educators tab) provides Buckets Of Books to Multnomah County schools to help kids improve their learning skills, helps parents and students with homework and research questions, as well as a number of other services. Books 2 U offers school visits and and afterschool programs as well as a summer program for at-risk children (we all know from this week’s readings how important that is!). The Birth To Six program has a variety of ways to encourage reading skills in preschoolers. And lastly they also have tons of information for teens looking to enter college.
Connecting the Library to Your Community Partner
After looking at all of the ways that the library serves the people of Multnomah County (and I am sure I am missing quite a few!), are there any services they provide that could be helpful to your community partner? Could your partner use an afterschool reading program? Would ESL help be more useful? Would providing books to students at your site that might not otherwise have access to them be more beneficial? Since I am working at Portland Youth Builders this semester and our term project is a college board, I will be sure to guide those students interested in more info to the library’s college information site.
In Support of Library Measure 26-143
Of course election night is coming up, and having the library open 7 days a week is important. I see many families bringing their children in to use the computers because, I assume, they don’t have access at home. Make sure they have access when they need it! So make sure to vote yes on Library Measure 26-143.