In high school, students are required to either complete volunteer hours or write a research paper before they graduate. The teenage me begrudgingly opted to volunteer my after-school time to work at a local thrift store.
Don’t get me wrong, I love to write, but penning a never-ending, end-of-the-year essay about economics wasn’t tempting during my senior year.
So I chose to volunteer what I considered precious TV-watching hours to work at a resale shop, sorting through boxes of donated items and shelving them. I knew I would learn much more from putting in some time at a nonprofit that benefitted those in need. And in the end, I never regretted the hours I spent vacuuming, breaking down boxes and categorizing donated items.
With that experience in mind and because it’s National Volunteer Week, I truly admire and appreciate those who volunteer their time at the Naperville Public Library.
Throughout the year, the library has about 850 dedicated volunteers ranging from sixth- through 12th-graders for the Summer Reading Program as well as those in ninth-grade and older as the library’s regular volunteers.
Pat Larson, a human resources assistant at the library, said regular volunteers come weekly at the same time and day in shifts of two hours.
“The adult volunteers provide a great core with most of them continuing for years,” Larson said.
Volunteers assist with departmental tasks, including shelving, assisting with fall cleanup day or even planting flowers. With the help of volunteers, library staff members are able to be more productive, Larson said.
“Adults and teens help organize and shelve CDs, and they assist in the preparation of crafts and other materials used for the children’s programs our staff presents,” she said.
“We also have volunteers who assist with office filing, large mailings and projects where assistance is a great help.
“Regular adult volunteers, who also include a group from the Naperville Evening Kiwanis, help distribute materials to those unable to make it to the library. We also have volunteers who come in just for short-term special projects.”
With this year’s Summer Reading Program approaching, the library gives advanced appreciation to the tireless hours teens and adults spend helping make the program successful. About 575 teens volunteer each summer, and many adult volunteers provide program information as well as become mentors to grade-school students in small reading groups.
“We appreciate all of the time and talents our volunteers share throughout many departments,” Larson said.
For more information about volunteering or to apply as a volunteer, go to www.naperville-lib.org/content/volunteer.
Mary Rakoczy is a multimedia associate for the Naperville Public Library.