Where do you find volunteers and how do you get them to keep coming back?
I have been with my library for five years and we have struggled with the volunteer issue. We primarily advertise for volunteers within our building although I do make requests and announcements at local community events and civic meetings as well. In the past we have also offered a Teen Advisory Board with a volunteering component. None of these methods have been overly successful.
I have found that high school students seeking volunteer hours are often only seeking to complete a handful of hours. While one might say, anything is better than nothing, I disagree. It takes time and effort from an already short staff to train volunteers, so when those volunteers do not stay very long they have cost us more time than they have provided by their attempt to help.
Once or twice we have had adults volunteer on a semi-regular basis as a requirement for some type of unemployment benefit, but these normally quit after they have found a job.
I will say that this year I can claim some relative success in regards to our Summer Carnival. This year is our 3rd of our annual carnival and this year we had 9 volunteers! This is more than we have had in the previous years, combined! In the first year we had 5 volunteers sign up and only one show up for the carnival. Last year, I think we had 3 volunteers. This year we had 9!! This year we actually were able to open all of our games and I was able to act as a runner to bring water to everyone and relieve people for potty breaks.
What really makes me sad is that I see other organizations doing so much better. At the last Chamber of Commerce event, they had over 50 volunteers and every year at the Literacy Council's Haunted House they have enough volunteers to build, decorate, and "haunt" an entire building for several weeks!
I send emails, I call local businesses, I ask patrons, I promote volunteering at the schools, but the volunteers are just not there. Is my community unique or is there ambivalence towards library support and volunteering in most communities?