Friday, September 17, 2010

Volunteer Calgary Library: The Oak Tree

Kathryn Ranjit

Yes, it’s a real library. The Volunteer Calgary Library is a special library that serves Volunteer Calgary, an organization that helps people get involved in the Calgary community through volunteering. Have you ever used the comprehensive Volunteer Calgary online database to look up volunteer opportunities? These opportunities are provided by the 450 Volunteer Calgary members - non-profit organizations that need volunteers to support their work.

I sat down for an interesting conversation with Valerie White, Library Coordinator with Volunteer Calgary. Valerie has had a long and varied career as a librarian within Calgary: as a library assistant in the Calgary school system, a cataloguer with the Calgary Board of Education, and a youth services librarian at the Calgary Public Library. She has now found a home at the Volunteer Calgary Library.

The Volunteer Calgary Library is beautiful and welcoming, occupying a corner space with windows overlooking Centre St. S on the second floor of the Kahanoff Centre. The library houses over 3600 books, CDs and DVDs which cover all aspects of volunteerism - including theory and philosophy of volunteerism, volunteer management, and fundraising. How do you recruit and retain Gen Y volunteers? How do you manage a health non-profit organization? How do you put together a press conference and who should you contact in Calgary? You’ll find the answers to these and many more questions in this unique collection.

Valerie is responsible for all aspects of running the library: acquisitions, cataloging, shelving, and working with the end user. She does have regular volunteers, who offer invaluable support to the library. They assist with many tasks including circulation, reference, development of operational procedures and suggestions for this unique collection. The volunteers contribute more than their time, they provide a wealth of knowledge and experience that keeps this library vibrant.

This library and librarian strive to make a difference. The Volunteer Calgary Library helps its members to create the policies that govern their organizations, as well as provide information to their leaders and volunteers. Valerie recalls her best moments at the library as those working with new staff and helping them tackle unfamiliar and difficult tasks, becoming confident and competent in a role that just a short time before they knew very little about. Valerie takes opportunities to create advocates, and counts members of the board of Volunteer Calgary among the set of avid library users.

When asked to describe her library as a tree, Valerie easily likened the Volunteer Calgary Library to an oak tree. The library has roots in the community. It is trusted and provides a solid base for Volunteer Calgary, and a canopy for its members.

Members of Volunteer Calgary have access to library resources and services, however if you are not a member you can still use this fantastic resource. Either drop in to use materials on-site or register with the library for a small annual fee. Details can be found online.

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